Search

How can we help?

Icon

The Ethical Labour Standard and the Modern Slavery Act

At a well-attended event held in Central London on 5 July, the BRE officially launched the “beta” version of a new standard covering ethical sourcing of labour. The new standard represents the logical next step following the introduction of BES 6001, the BRE standard relating to the responsible sourcing of construction products. BES 6001 enables product manufacturers to ensure – and prove – that their products have been made with constituent materials that have been responsibly sourced. Through BES 6001, product manufacturers can demonstrate compliance with the requirements for organisational governance, supply chain management and environmental and social responsibility that must be addressed to ensure the responsible sourcing of construction products.

Independent third party assessment and certification against the requirements of BES 6001 give companies the ability to prove the standards they maintain. The new ethical labour standard (“ELS”) will allow companies to prove that they maintain the same standards when it comes to sourcing labour. The ELS criteria require companies to show well developed procedures and behaviours across a range of issues including management systems and policies, human resources, procurement, anti bribery & corruption, supply chain, learning and development and reporting.

These developments should be seen in the context of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, which sets a basic benchmark for ethical business practice in the sourcing of labour and contains significant measures aimed at preventing forced labour and human trafficking. In particular the Act:

  • Defines clearly the offences of forced labour and trafficking and how others might be considered complicit in these forms of exploitation; and
  • Establishes reporting requirements for companies relating to efforts to combat forced labour and trafficking – including specific reporting requirements aimed at achieving transparency in the supply chain, not just the UK based business.

This Act is made necessary by the shocking facts of modern slavery. An estimated 35.8 million people currently live their lives as slaves . Your clothing, household goods and technology may all have been partly made by slaves – from t-shirts to granite worktops, to tantalum and other conflict minerals in your mobile phone.

Monica Atwal

Managing Partner

View profile

+44 118 960 4605

Chambers and Partners

The Clarkslegal team are commercial and good to work with. They get what our business needs and tell me what I need to hear.

There is a clear moral case for eliminating modern slavery, one that the Act and the ELS seek to address . But there is business logic too. When it comes to recruitment, seeking third party investment in your business, building long term business relationships, or access to trading opportunities, ethical sourcing of materials and labour is becoming increasingly important. It is arguably no longer possible for a business to sustain itself long term without addressing these issues in a meaningful and transparent way.

In the face of such a hugely difficult and ongoing problem as modern slavery, the issue for some construction companies has been – where to start? What is the best “way in” to confronting the issues in a way that may ultimately lead to the elimination of slavery in construction supply chains? The BRE has now provided a point of focus with the introduction of the ELS, and it is to be hoped that compliance with the ELS requirements will quickly come to be seen as a given, a necessity in order to maintain a sustainable and profitable business.

About this article

Disclaimer

This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

Monica Atwal

Managing Partner

View profile

+44 118 960 4605

About this article

Read, listen and watch our latest insights

art
  • 19 April 2024
  • Employment

Amanda Glover comments on ‘Employment law isn’t working for anyone’ for HR Magazine

In HR magazine, Amanda Glover, Associate at Clarkslegal responds to the recent article titled ‘Employment law isn’t working for anyone’ by Libby Purves in The Times last week.

art
  • 17 April 2024
  • Immigration

Shaping Britain’s Future: updates to Skilled Worker and Family visas

In December 2023, the UK government, under Home Secretary James Cleverly, announced a five-point plan aimed at reducing net migration, with significant revisions to visa regulations.

art
  • 17 April 2024
  • Employment

‘Injured feelings’- Vento Bands price increase 2024

Injuring someone’s feelings through acts of discrimination, harassment or victimisation can be a costly business.

art
  • 17 April 2024
  • Employment

FAQs on the long awaited amendments to Statutory Paternity Leave

This April has seen a wave of new family friendly rights come into force. Amongst these, is the long awaited amendments to Statutory Paternity Leave.

art
  • 10 April 2024
  • Employment

New Guidance: Confidence to Recruit

The new Government guide in collaboration with the CIPD aims to give employers the confidence to recruit its workforce from a wider range of people including those who may have been overlooked in the past as a problem rather than an asset.

art
  • 03 April 2024
  • Employment

FAQ’s on the new Carer’s Leave Act

Beginning on 6 April 2024, the Carer’s Leave Act comes into force, meaning carers are now entitled to request 1 week’s unpaid leave to care for their dependants.