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The Welsh Government launches plan to tackle modern slavery

Apr 06, 2017

Ethical employment will be promoted throughout supply chains

Three-quarters of companies in the UK are now fully aware that the issues surrounding modern slavery could be highly likely within their supply chains. Acting upon this worrying statistic, the Welsh Government has now published a mandatory code of practice for public sector bodies, their suppliers, and third-sector organisations which receive public funding. This code will aim to ensure that all those working within the supply chain are acting to eradicate unlawful and unethical employment practices and that workers are treated fairly. The Welsh Government hope to encourage other organisations to sign up to the code designed to help prevent modern slavery and other employment abuses in supply chains too. According to the government, the Welsh public sector spends around £6 billion every year on goods, services and works involving international supply chains, indicating the essential requirement for such a code to ensure good employment practices are observed throughout the public sector. The code is aimed not only at improving the wellbeing of those involved in supply chains across the world but those living in Wales too. It covers the employment issues of modern slavery and human rights abuses, blacklisting, false self-employment, the unfair use of umbrella schemes and zero-hours contracts and the payment of the Living Wage. Although the Modern Slavery Act was introduced nationwide in 2015, it only applies to businesses with an annual turnover of over £36 million. This code will take Welsh firms beyond these obligations. In order to meet the requirements of the code, signatories will have to fulfil twelve commitments, with support through accompanying guides including advice and tools for putting each commitment into practice. The commitments are wide-ranging, including the production of a written policy on ethical employment within the organisation and for its suppliers, a written policy on whistle-blowing and training on modern slavery and ethical employment for those involved in buying and procurement. Employment practices must be considered as part of the procurement process, as well as consideration of the way in which relationships between suppliers can contribute to illegal or unethical practices. In addition, an organisation should expect its suppliers to sign up to the code of practice, to encourage its use throughout the whole supply chain. Welsh public sector bodies will have to produce an annual report on their implementation of the code, and also include plans for future actions. Developed with input from the government’s procurement team and in consultation with buyers throughout the public sector, it is hoped that the new code of practice will be a welcome step on the way to ensure Wales becomes a fair work nation and will stand as an indication that Wales will not tolerate exploitation.

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