Modern Slavery Training by the Experts: Unseen UK  | News | Procurement Hub

Modern slavery, which includes human trafficking and labour exploitation, is a significant phenomenon, both in the UK and globally. With over 40 million victims worldwide, this issue is characterised as both a lucrative and highly organised crime and one of the most severe forms of human rights abuses.

The scale of the issue is such that one part of society alone cannot tackle it effectively; it requires a unified approach. Alongside law enforcement, statutory agencies and frontline services, businesses play a key role in the fight against labour exploitation in particular. Businesses who turn over £36M or more per annum are required to produce annual statements as per S.54 of the Modern Slavery Act. However, modern slavery and labour abuse are issues that affect businesses of all sizes, from multi-national corporations to self-employed labourers. Increasingly, businesses seek to work with others who have a robust anti-slavery response. A key way to demonstrate this is through targeted, specialist training. Places for People have partnered with leading anti-slavery charity Unseen UK, who share more about their expert training programme below. 

Unseen UK and The Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline 

Unseen is a leading UK anti-slavery charity, operating the UK’s 24/7 Modern Slavery and Exploitation Helpline staffed by a team of experts. Since launching in October 2016, the Helpline has received over 25,000 contacts with concerns of modern slavery or human trafficking within the UK and beyond. Unseen work closely alongside police, GLAA, national law enforcement bodies, local authorities, frontline services, and NGOs. Our Helpline and business services are overseen by Director Justine Currell, who has extensive expertise working with businesses on modern slavery risks. 

Unseen is proud to partner with Places for People and support their procurement and senior team’s efforts in developing a robust anti-slavery strategy. Training has been instrumental in embedding modern slavery awareness throughout the company. Unseen also works with major global brands across many sectors: supermarkets (including Tesco, Sainsbury's, Waitrose), retail (including Next, Boohoo and JD Sports), construction (Achilles, British Land, Sir Robert McAlpine) and other leading brands including Nestlé, Amazon, and The Cordant Group. These businesses value Unseen’s unique expertise and have benefitted from bespoke training and consultancy services which have strengthened their response to the risks of modern slavery and supported awareness raising across their organisations 

Unseen's unparalleled experience and insight into modern slavery and exploitation bolster a company’s understanding and response to labour exploitation, both through Helpline insights and our close work with stakeholders, policymakers and legislators. 

The reality remains that labour abuse and exploitation will be occurring at various points within most business’ supply chains. High risk sectors include, but are not limited to: 

  • Construction 
  • Manufacturing
  • Logistics and distribution 
  • Transportation 
  • Cleaning 
  • Catering and events management 
  • Third-party recruitment and temporary labour 

Without specialist insight, it is incredibly difficult for any business to have clear visibility for the issues occurring down the supply chain.  

Expert Training 

With a wealth of knowledge, understanding and experience of all forms of modern slavery and exploitation, Unseen provides unique training experiences based on real life case studies and drawing from reports made to the Helpline.  Training for business is be delivered virtually or face-to-face (subject to government Covid-19 restrictions) and includes unique content that is both relevant and practical for your workforce. Our training can include workshops focused on risk identification, management and mitigation as well as developing practical action plans for attendees to utilise post the session. Unseen’s senior leaders are more than happy to engage with senior leaders from business to provide a short, focused session on the benefits of strengthening the organisation’s response to people risks. 

Training will be tailored to the business’ needs including adding content related to any escalation processes or wider policies, supplier codes of conduct or ethical practice.  Multi-year agreements are encouraged to ensure training remains a focus and the bespoke content is updated regularly to meet business needs and to ensure our current understanding of the issue is reflected accurately. Thinking about longer term training in this way will also show a commitment to behaviour change and continuous improvement, which were intentions behind the introduction of Section 54 in the UK’s Modern Slavery Act and the impending changes to that legislation. 

Regular activity to raise awareness of modern slavery within an organisation is also key. Through our partnership, we will help and support your business to engage effectively with your colleagues, supply chain, labour providers, sub-contractors, customers, and community groups.   

E-Learning 

In recognition of the vast number of employees within larger companies who would benefit from modern slavery training, Unseen has developed a range of specialist e-learning. Unseen offers e-learning that's accessible remotely at each employee’s convenience. This will continue a business’ efforts to raise the profile of Modern Slavery and broaden its impact. E-learning can be delivered and deployed bespoke, ensuring that the look and feel of the training is in line with your corporate branding, policies, and colours. 

Why now? 

Now more than ever is the time for companies to commit to modern slavery training. The ongoing economic and logistical impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic are increasing the proportion of the workforce vulnerable to slavery or exploitation, alongside existing weaknesses within supply chains. It is also more likely that exploitation is driven further out of sight and easier to miss as due diligence struggles to keep up with increased pressure on retail demand.  

Furthermore, with Brexit now in effect, the status of thousands of EU migrant workers is incredibly uncertain. This demographic comprises a significant proportion of the labour force at lower ends of supply chains and their vulnerability to exploitation is likely to skyrocket as the UK officially leaves the EU. This will compound the issues created by Covid-19. 

It is therefore highly likely instances of exploitation within supply chains, particularly within higher-risk sectors will increase. We expect to see this reflected through Helpline reports for years to come. Insight-driven engagement with Unseen will be of crucial importance to identifying this. In a period where business investors are seeking greater assurances that these risks are thoroughly addressed, partnership with Unseen will allow a stronger degree of confidence. 

Changing Legal Landscape 

Section 54 of the Act (Transparency in Supply Chains) was designed to influence businesses in creating strong and extensive statements which point to realistic and targeted action. In September 2020, the UK government announced a package of changes to the regulations which will see business requirements more stringent. Significant changes to S.54 are likely to come into force within the next 12-18 months. Businesses will be required to layout specific activities in regard to human rights due diligence and modern slavery risk assessments. Single reporting dates and a mandatory central registry will also increase the responsibilities placed on business.  

Parallel to the shifting UK legal requirements is an ever-growing global modern slavery legislature. As a global company, Entain’s modern slavery statement must consider relevant legislation in Australia, California, France, and emerging EU mandatory human rights due diligence. 

Training is a key tool for businesses to demonstrate commitment to raising the profile of modern slavery as a human rights issue relevant to all their employees, but also to increase corporate ownership of the issue and strategy development. 

Back2Source Membership 

We see initial corporate modern slavery training as the beginning of an ongoing relationship of collaboration between Unseen and your businessBusinesses who commit to continuous improvement through an ongoing relationship with Unseen will benefit from Back2Source membership, Unseen’s umbrella programme for business engagement. Back2source offers ongoing and discounted access to Unseen’s wider business expertise to support continuous improvement in your modern slavery response. Membership of Back2Source demonstrates recognised commitment to tackling modern slavery that serves to reassure partners and investors of your ongoing commitment. Members benefit from the insight, collaboration, and discounts to Unseen’s wider business services.  

During the month of April, Procurement Hub members can take advantage of training with Unseen at a 10% discount on standard prices. Prices based on length and number of sessions. To secure your place, please contact business@unseenuk.org before 30th April 2021. 

Read more about our aim to tackle modern slavery here.

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