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Modern Slavery Act 2015

Obligations

The UK Modern Slavery Act became law on the 26th March 2015. It aims to prevent all forms of labour exploitation, and to increase transparency of labour practices in supply chains. Under the additional clause (clause 6) added retrospectively to the Act, it also requires eligible commercial organisations (over £36m turnover per annum) to make a public statement as to the actions they have taken to detect and deal with forced labour and trafficking in their supply chains – the ‘Transparency in Supply Chains obligation’.

There is clear direction from HM Government, in the guidance issued with the Act, that eligible organisations will commit time and resources to understanding, and working to combat, the issue of slavery in its supply chain. Additional specific direction came from the then Home Secretary Teresa May that organisations must increase their supply chain accountability.

Under the Act, eligible organisations must publish an annual statement in line with their financial year end.

The scope of the obligation is to state the steps the organisation has taken (or state that no steps have been taken), to detect and deal with forced labour or human trafficking in the supply chain. Whilst a non-compliance statement was deemed acceptable for the first year of publication, there is an expectation of evidenced year on year improvement in the actions carried out within the organisation to detect and deal with forced labour or human trafficking in the supply chain.

Whilst Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT), being an NHS organisation, does not meet the definitions of organisations covered by the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and, therefore, is not required to publish a statement, as a professional, responsible and ethical public procurement organisation, LPT recognises this is good practice and to fail to do so could give rise to increased supply chain and reputational risk.

For clarity, ‘supply chain’ has a much wider implication than just the purchasing of goods and services carried out, by procurement teams. It also includes the supply chain of the carrying out of its own business.

This means, that for LPT, in addition to the purchasing of goods and services carried out by the Procurement Team and the Health Informatics Service (HIS), the definition includes spend incurred by pharmacy, capital schemes, purchasing cards, petty cash, healthcare expenditure, payments to statutory and other agencies, and any other goods and services purchased by LPT.

As ‘supply chain’ also includes the carrying out of its own business, HR recruitment for permanent staff, bank and agency staff, and other bought in medical and non-medical consultants fall within the scope of the Act.

What has LPT done?

LPT is developing a Trust-wide fact-sheet around the Modern Slavery Act to raise awareness to highlight what it is, where information can be found, why is it important, personal responsibilities and where this is embedded in the working of the Trust.

LPT has identified the policies that required the addition of appropriate reference to the Modern Slavery Act and its requirements. These have been submitted for scrutiny and approved.

The Trust’s e-learning module on Equality and Diversity now includes training on the awareness of human trafficking and forced labour, and provides advice on what to do if this is suspected. The module is mandatory for all new staff and refresher training, and participation is monitored and reported on. At the end of February 2018, LPT achieved a compliance rate of 94.9%. The target for substantive staff was 85%. The agency staff target was 75%, exceeded by the achievement rate of 89.2%. LPT employs 5,259 staff.

Tender documentation for goods and services procurement, and business development healthcare services, routinely include questions as part of the tender return to determine eligible bidders’ compliance with the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act. Successful suppliers will be added to the Trust’s Modern Slavery Act database.

Agency Staff provision and the recruitment process have processes in place to detect and prevent the incidence of modern slavery.

LPT has established a database of Modern Slavery Act Statements published by all it’s eligible suppliers.

Based on the latest whole year data (2016–2017), of the 1,263 suppliers used:

  • 207 of these were eligible under the Act to publish their own statements
  • 120 were defined as not required to publish statements
  • Turnover could not be established for 195 suppliers
  • 741 were below threshold

Technically a number of the published statements are non-compliant, for example, not published on the organisation’s web-site page. LPT would expect that further guidance will be issued as compliance targets are met or not met.

During the financial year 2018/2019, the programme of validation for all suppliers will continue, as an embedded part of annual reporting by LPT. The expectation of the Act is that published statements demonstrate improvement in detection and prevention of modern slavery, and that organisations can demonstrate their own improvement in detecting and preventing incidences of modern slavery.

LPT is signed up to the Business and Human Rights Registry, which collates statements and locations by organisation. There is no obligation for organisations to publish their statements or details on this website or on any other. There are several databases in existence, but none are comprehensive.

During financial year 2018/2019, LPT plans to establish a central, shared e-filing space, which will allow all Trust activity to be monitored and audited. Measures will be developed to monitor compliance, and escalation processes will be established to highlight where slavery or human trafficking may be suspected

You can download a signed copy of this progress statement from our chief executive, Dr Peter Miller, (March 2018)

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