Modern slavery – what do businesses need to know?

Modern slavery – what do businesses need to know?

Posted on Jun 15, 2016

Modern slavery – what do businesses need to know?



The very recent 2016 Global Slavery Index report – described as ‘the most accurate up-to-date analysis of slavery in history’ – has estimated that almost 46 million people around the world are trapped in modern slavery.

That’s 0.62% of all the people across the entire world, or 1 out of every 160 people.

If you’ve been following our recent mini-series of blogs on modern slavery, you’ll already know what it is, and what the signs to be aware of are.


Does modern slavery affect businesses in the UK?

Whilst it’s not likely that everyone in the UK works in a business that is affected by modern slavery, it is more prevalent in this country than you might think.

The BBC have identified five such examples of modern slavery:


  • The seafood industry – such as people being forced to work on fishing boats and sometimes kept for years without seeing land.
  • Cannabis factories and nail bars – 3,000 children from Vietnam alone are thought to be working in British cannabis farms and nail bars.
  • Sexual slavery – victims are often promised work abroad and then forced to carry out sex work in brothels or on the streets.
  • Forced begging – some criminal gangs will force children across the world to beg on the streets and take all money received.
  • Behind closed doors – a lot of modern slavery happens in private, such as on farms or even family homes.

A couple of those examples have probably surprised you a bit. You probably know someone – or at least know someone who knows someone – that works in a nail bar or in the seafood industry in some capacity.


What can be done by businesses?

It’s not just your organisation’s reputation or profits that are at risk. Companies have a responsibility to be protecting their workforce from modern slavery too. All businesses – that includes employers, business managers and colleagues – need ensure that employees and fellow workers are safeguarded, treated fairly, and treated with dignity. Therefore, flick recommends that the two key areas all organisations should be looking at are supply chain and recruitment.


Supply chain

Check to make sure you can account for every step of the process and that you know exactly who is providing things like goods and services.

The longer a supply chain is, the more opportunity there is for it to be exploited.

Let any companies you are doing business with know that any exploitation is not acceptable in any form.


Staff recruitment

Everybody in your organisation should be keeping their ears and eyes open to the possibility of modern slavery.

Only use reputable recruitment agencies and ensure that all your staff can legally work in the UK.

Ensure that staff have a written contract of employment and that they haven’t been made to pay any fees to work.

Check the names and addresses of staff. If there are a number of people listed at the same address, it may indicate high shared occupancy which is often a factor for those being exploited.

Be aware of the typical signs, and if you suspect something, be brave enough speak out. Turning a blind eye is not an option. 


Train your staff

You can train your staff to be aware of the signs of modern slavery and how to respond to any disclosures with flick learning. Subscribing with flick offers access to all flick courses, plus downloadable guides and resources in the flick library. So why not sign up today?


Modern slavery and trafficking training


Related articles

Forced marriage – what is it? Modern slavery – what is it?

Modern slavery – what are the signs? Modern slavery – what are the signs?

Child sexual abuse: how can you spot the signs? Child sexual abuse: how can you spot the signs?


Related courses

modern slavery and trafficking modern slavery and trafficking

Forced marriage awareness training forced marriage awareness

child protection cover image child protection






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