This Sunday, 18th October 2020 is Anti-Slavery Day, which was created by the Anti-Slavery Act 2010. It is an annual day to raise awareness of all forms of slavery, human trafficking and exploitation, and the desperate need to eradicate it.
People already considered the most vulnerable within our population are targets for slavery facilitators. People in the UK suffering from disabilities, homelessness, poverty, abuse and ill mental health are among the most exploited. The migrant workforce is also highly vulnerable to this abuse, with the police estimating an average of 4000 human trafficking victims in the UK at any one time.
UNNOTICED BUT NOT UNSEEN
There are over 40 million cases of modern slavery across the world, with some form of exploitation to children and adults happening in every region of the UK right now. A victim of slavery is someone who is physically and/or mentally abused into some form of labour. Victims may be physically imprisoned, human-trafficked or exploited by their abuser.
It’s a common misconception that because the UK’s employment industry is fairly regulated that modern slavery is not a critical issue in this country. Sadly it is.
Some victims of slavery may be forced to work in illegal jobs and inhumane conditions. Others may be in perfectly legitimate employment, for an established business, but the employer is unaware that their worker is being forced to against their will and is having their wages intercepted.
To a passer-by or an untrained eye, someone enslaved may look perfectly ordinary. That is why raising awareness of modern slavery is so essential, and this is why we are marking Anti-Slavery Day 2020.
THE RED FLAGS
Everyone has to be alive to the reality of modern slavery, which covers all forms of human trafficking, forced labour and exploitation.
Modern slavery is organised and serious crime. Those responsible are cruel, but they’re cunning and know how to disguise it and keep their victim’s enslavement hidden and they’re pleas for help silent.
Businesses and employers have a duty of care to identify red flags to potential victims of modern slavery. Recruitment agencies and labour providers like Ambitions Personnel, which specialise in the agriculture and industrial sectors have to be extra vigilant.
- Is someone in the country or asking for work against their will?
- Does an applicant have someone speak on their behalf?
- Have multiple workers got the exact same emergency contact?
- Do multiple agency workers live at the same address?
- Do they understand there is no charge for candidates to use a recruitment agency?
- Have they paid someone to travel to the country or to find work?
- Is someone controlling their means of transportation?
ONGOING DUE DILIGENCE
Preventing and identifying modern slavery activity is day to day due diligence for a business. For an agency, which engages temporary workers on an ongoing basis, this isn’t just at registration. Signs of slavery or exploitation are not always immediately obvious.
Agencies, like Ambitions Personnel, should be vigilant regarding the welfare of their workers. Any changes in their behaviour and appearance need to be monitored.
- Does someone appear malnourished?
- Are the issues with their appearance and hygiene?
- Has their attitude changed?
Do they isolate themselves?
Do they travel to and from work with people in a similar poor state?
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires businesses with a turnover of more than £36 million to publish an annual statement. Within it, they must outline what measures and regulations they are following to prevent and eradicate modern slavery. Read Ambitions Personnel’s here.
Small businesses are still morally liable, as modern slavery occurs across all sectors and all business sizes. There are many organisations out there that can support businesses implement safeguarding processes regarding modern slavery. Ambitions Personnel is a Stronger Together Business Partner which ensures we follow the best practices.
IMPACT OF COVID
Due to the catastrophic coronavirus pandemic, anti-slavery efforts have been massively disrupted worldwide, so this year it is more important than ever to help raise awareness and educate ourselves.