CHAS, the supply chain risk management company, is partnering with the University of Nottingham Rights Lab to research the risk of modern slavery in construction supply chains.
The project will focus on small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and will seek to establish how construction businesses can effectively tackle modern slavery.
Under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, there is no legal requirement for businesses with turnovers under £36m to publish a statement about how they are addressing the risk of modern slavery. However, many construction SMEs are asked by their supply chains to provide evidence that they are tackling the issue.
Modern Slavery Tools
Through their collaboration with the Rights Lab, CHAS will create a range of tools and resources to help construction SMEs take positive action to manage, mitigate and eliminate the risk of modern slavery and labour exploitation in the construction supply chain.
Most private businesses in the UK are SMEs and nearly a fifth operate in the construction sector. Supporting SMEs in effectively managing this issue has the potential to greatly improve the UK’s record in tackling modern slavery.
Dr Akilah Jardine, Research Fellow at the Rights Lab, said: “We are thrilled to collaborate with CHAS on this important piece of work. Together we hope to progress understanding of SME engagement with the anti-slavery agenda, including opportunities and challenges to engaging smaller businesses, and develop tailored guidance to support their members in tackling modern slavery.”
Gareth Rondel, Sustainable Business Lead at CHAS, said: “We know that collaboration is often the key to progress in the construction industry so we are extremely pleased to be undertaking this research project with an organisation as well respected as the University of Nottingham Rights Lab. We are looking forward to working together to help businesses better manage this issue and we are hopeful our work will have a significant impact on reducing modern slavery and human rights abuse within construction supply chains.”
While research has been done into the estimated prevalence of modern slavery by the ONS, it has been difficult to gain an accurate picture.
Frank Hanson, Head of Prevention and Partnerships at the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), said: “SMEs are uniquely placed to be the eyes and ears of what is happening on construction sites up and down the country and can play a vital role in keeping workers safe.”
Dr. Akilah Jardine, Frank Hanson and Gareth Rondel discuss the issue of modern slavery in the construction supply chain in CHAS’s recent webinar on the subject: Webinar: Modern Slavery In Construction – A Risk for Small & Medium-Sized Businesses on Vimeo