Brands named and shamed on slavery reporting

27 February 2017

A number of top UK retailers expected to publish Modern Slavery Act (MSA) statements have missed a deadline. 

Supply chain software provider Segura conducted research and found that of 34 retailers who should have produced statements on their websites by 31 January, 11 had failed to do so.

Segura has named five of the most recognisable brands included in the 11. They are: fashion store Blue Inc, department store The Original Factory Shop, discount store Home Bargains, chocolatier Hotel Chocolat and sandwich chain EAT.

A spokesperson at Home Bargains told SM their statement had not been published due to technical issues with their website and it would be published this week.

“We are working with an external provider to resolve the technical reason for why the statement has not been published on our website,” he said.

“We hope to have this resolved shortly.”

The other four companies have not responded to SM's request for comment.Eliminate supply chain slavery

Under the MSA any company whether public or private that has a global turnover of more than £36m and operates in the UK must publish an annual statement outlining what they are doing to identify and address modern slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains.

Businesses have six months after their financial year-end to publish such statements.

Waterstones and Wagamama were among 39 companies who failed to publish within the stipulated six-month period after their end of financial year, but they later did so.

Segura CMO Kosten Metreweli said companies weren’t doing enough to mirror the UK government’s pledge to eradicate modern slavery.

“The government has made it loud and clear that it is serious about eradicating the trafficking of humans to the UK for slavery purposes, but it seems that companies aren’t yet willing to make the same public show,” he said. 

“Recent news stories have demonstrated that in many cases brands simply have no idea of what is happening in their suppliers’ factories; they need to begin by gaining a complete view of their supply chains.”

Meanwhile, compliance specialist Altius has published a report indicating that UK businesses are not doing enough to tackle modern slavery across their supply chains.

The Modern Day Slavery Survey 2017 report surveyed supply chain, procurement and health and safety managers and found 82% wanted to see members of the senior leadership team do more to ensure compliance with the MSA.

One in three admitted they did not know who had ultimate responsibly for MSA compliance in the business.

Len Simmons, chief operating officer for Altius, said responsibility for compliance should ideally be entrenched into the company’s ethos.

“Simply having a code of conduct or ethical procurement policy isn’t enough,” he said.

“Businesses need to act on and implement their policies to ensure both they and their suppliers are compliant. 

“The same applies to procurement processes—modern slavery compliance should be ingrained in every audit and questionnaire completed by suppliers.”

Earlier this year prime minister Theresa May made further commitments to tackling the issue of modern slavery earlier this year, pledging a £33m fund to target the counties that regularly traffic to the UK. 

Last year, it was reported that only 40 out of 540 statements uploaded to a registry were compliant with MSA standards.

Three of the most basic criteria for the report to be compliant are approval from the company’s board of directors or equivalent, a signature from a director or equivalent, and for the report to be posted on the home page of the company’s website.

Segura figures show that somewhere between 21m and 36m people are enslaved worldwide, with one in three being children.

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