Modern Slavery Act and sustainable supply chains
The Modern Slavery Act, which received Royal Assent on 26th March 2015, will send ripples through the construction industry. Not knowing it is simply not an answer.
Organisations with a turnover of more than £36m will have to make publicly-available statements about their approach to identifying and mitigating risks relating to modern slavery. This is not simply about directly-employed people, it also applies to sub-contract employees and others further down the supply chain. Whilst as a minimum it will be sufficient to state that nothing has been done, this would be a rather short-sighted position to take.
For the BRE's Centre for Sustainable Products, which has been working in the area of responsible sourcing for more than six years, giving more attention to this specific social impact is a logical step. The BES 6001 Framework Standard for the Responsible Sourcing of Construction Products already makes organisations consider their policies in relation to human rights and International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions, but the need for a more focussed approach is clear.
In January 2016, BRE invited a wide range of stakeholders (including clients, manufacturers, software experts and contractors) to start a discussion about developing a standard for ethical labour in the supply chain. There group expressed a desire to change industry practice. Discussions recognised that whatever approach comes out of the process it has to be able to work at all tiers of the supply chain, each of which may interpret risks differently. A number of organisations have already done fantastic work in the labour standard arena (such as ETI, UNGC, ILO, etc.); and it is important now to build a common standard based on these globally-accepted frameworks.
The need for a standard in this space is compelling and an ambition has been set to have such a standard ready for launch in the summer of 2016. Modern slavery is happening, and it is important that the construction industry is supported in developing more transparent and modern slavery-free supply chains.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Building a fairer system: Tackling modern day slavery.
- Ethical labour sourcing standard.
- Ethical sourcing.
- Ethics in construction.
- Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA).
- Modern slavery and the supply chain.
- Modern slavery toolkit.
- Time to face up: Modern slavery in the construction industry.
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