HM Insights

Scotland against Modern Slavery – obligations and showing vigilance in relation to supply chains

I was delighted to be asked to be on the panel of speakers for the recent 'Transparency in Supply Chains' event, organised by Brightwork Recruitment and held at the very impressive Edrington headquarters in Glasgow.

Whilst I spoke about the legal background regarding organisations' obligations to seek to ensure that slavery and human trafficking are not taking place in their supply chains, the event was brought to life by the other speakers.

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Peter Hope-Jones of the Scottish Government outlined the Government's commitment to positive action, before Fiona Panetta of the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority gave some hard-hitting real life examples of modern slavery, its effects and how it is being combatted. Shan Saba of Brightwork then brought the focus to practical steps that his organsation is taking to spot signs of such exploitation among workers.

Although I was one of the speakers, I also found that this was a real learning opportunity, with the audience participation and discussion about best practice certainly illuminating.

The key points that I took away (and I hope the rest of the attendees did) included:

  • How well organised and prepared the criminal gangs controlling vulnerable individuals are, and how easy it can be for them to infiltrate a supply chain.
  • Red flags to spot signs of potential modern slavery include workers sharing bank accounts and mobile phone numbers; one worker providing food for others; and the transporting of workers together.
  • Whilst Government has legislated, it is the responsibility of all organisations to be vigilant and take necessary steps to combat modern slavery, whether or not the Modern Slavery Act is directly applicable to them. The legislation is designed to filter these obligations down the supply chain and many large organisations are placing contractual obligations on their suppliers to ensure these suppliers are taking positive steps to tackle modern slavery.

Hopefully there will be more of these events to come in order to continue to shine the spotlight on this important area.

Get in touch

If your organisation has any queries about the Modern Slavery Act and its obligations under it, or would like more information about policies, statements or practical steps for compliance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

If you have direct concerns about the welfare of workers, then please contact the Government's Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700.