From today 1 April 2016, legislation introduced last year will now require larger companies to report on policies and actions to eradicate Modern Slavery within their businesses and supply chains.
The Fairtrade Foundation welcomes the UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015 and working together alongside other members of the Ethical Trading Initiative we supported the inclusion of the Transparency in Supply Chains clause in the scope of the Act.
From April 2016 the Act requires organisations with a turnover above a financial threshold of £36 million to include a statement within company reports explaining any activities it has undertaken to tackle modern slavery and wider human rights issues within its business and supply chains, including activity prior to the commencement of the new provision. The Fairtrade Foundation supports the increased transparency this will demand of medium to large sized enterprises, which in turn will help their shareholders, members of the public and civil society organisations to hold companies accountable for delivery of core human rights in their supply chains.
Child Labour and Forced Labour is a devastating and endemic problem in many parts of the world in which Fairtrade operates and we have long been committed to working with producers, industry, trade unions and governmental bodies to reduced and eradicate such exploitation, in compliance with applicable national labour laws and the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions, and to increase protection and support for vulnerable children and adults. Critical to this is ensuring business purchasing and trading practices cover the full cost of production and provide decent work for those employed in their supply chains.
Eliminating Modern Slavery is covered within the Fairtrade Producer Standards and Fairtrade Trader Standard and requires everyone who buys, sells or processes Fairtrade certified products from the raw commodity to packaging to comply with these standards. In addition the Trader Standard also encourages supply chain actors/traders to adopt voluntary best practices to support risk mitigation and management throughout their supply chains and calls upon them to source products from vulnerable producer groups, rather than exclude such groups from trade.
The Producer Standards also encourage producers to identify and respond to modern slavery through self-governing, continuous improving, community based monitoring on child and/or forced labour. Producer organisations in countries including Belize, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Colombia, Cote de Ivoire, Madagascar, Kenya have developed such self-governing systems.
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Notes to editors
Fairtrade certification can apply to hired labour, contract production and/or to smallholder producer situations. The Hired Labour, Contract Production and Small Producer Organisation (SPO) standards cover the main forms of modern slavery under “labour conditions”, including the following key headings:
- Freedom from Discrimination
- Freedom from forced and compulsory labour
- Child Labour and Child Protection
- Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining
- Conditions of Employment Occupational Health & Safety
The standards require compliance with national law, key ILO and other relevant human rights conventions. FLOCERT (Fairtrade’s assurance provider for producer certification) has developed compliance criteria for each of the requirements of the above mentioned subheadings and audit against them. All Fairtrade standards are available publicly at www.fairtrade.net
Guidance from the UK government on the Act can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/471996/Transparency_in_Supply_Chains_etc__A_practical_guide__final_.pdf