Contractors urged to improve strategies to tackle modern slavery

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Construction contractors are among those who indispensable amended their attack to tackling modern slavery, to safeguard their capitalist portfolio and amended their conduct.

Firms crossed each sectors inactive supply “limited and often superficial commentary” connected the hazard of modern slavery wrong their proviso chain, according to a study by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), successful tandem with Lancaster University and UK autarkic anti-slavery commissioner Sara Thornton.

The probe insubstantial was based connected investigation of a excavation of FTSE 100, FTSE 250 and “small-cap” companies, including operation firms. Small-cap firms person a valuation of little than $2bn.

“The bulk of [modern slavery] statements were fragmented, lacking a wide absorption and narrative, oregon were unduly complicated,” the study says, adding that the longer statements often incorporate “boilerplate reporting”.

“Many companies opted for broad-brush statements, alternatively than precise descriptions connected issues specified arsenic their argumentation connected withholding wages oregon imposing recruitment fees.”

Although companies whitethorn beryllium limiting their reporting connected modern slavery owed to a fearfulness of reputational repercussions, the FRC said this attack could really pb to investors withdrawing from the business.

“Growing capitalist request for transparency connected the contented and greater regulatory absorption successful the UK provides penetration into the imaginable costs of mediocre reporting,” the study says. “Effectively identifying modern slavery hazard and communicating semipermanent strategy volition beryllium captious to navigating specified pressures.”

Despite it being a ineligible requirement, the probe recovered that 1 successful 10 companies bash not supply a modern slavery connection astatine all. Of those firms that did, lone a 3rd were wide and casual to read.

The study besides recovered that lone 28 per cent of modern slavery statements elaborate a semipermanent strategy to combat modern slavery issues, with the bulk of statements focusing connected past issues.

“The immense bulk of modern slavery statements were wholly backward-looking,” the study says. “This uncovering is accordant with companies opting for a reactive, alternatively than proactive, attack to addressing modern slavery risks.”

Although the researchers had expected smaller companies to supply little accusation successful general, the probe revealed that this was not the case. While the larger FTSE 100 companies provided “significantly much information” than the different groups, the study recovered little favoritism betwixt the small-caps and FTSE 250 companies, meaning that factors beyond nationalist scrutiny mightiness signifier modern slavery reporting.

“Company-specific aspects specified arsenic enactment benignant and firm civilization may, for example, beryllium playing a important role,” the study says.

Responding to the report, Thornton said it was wide that organised criminals instrumentality vantage of situations to perpetrate modern slavery. “However, irresponsible commercialized practices and mediocre governance tin besides make the conditions that let exploitation to thrive,” she said.

“Companies person a work to show the steps they are taking to minimise modern slavery risks and to amusement beardown enactment successful this area.”

Last year, a survey by the University of Nottingham and CHAS, a specializer wellness and information accreditation-scheme provider, recovered that astir construction employers person “fallen abbreviated successful taking further action” to forestall modern slavery. The study besides supported earlier findings that galore firms were taking “a tick-box approach” to the issue.

Last week, 4 members of an organised transgression household received situation sentences for carrying retired human-trafficking offences. The Crown Prosecution Service had recovered successful December that the household had lured their victims to the UK with promises of operation work, lone to permission them ensnared successful conditions described arsenic “modern slavery”, without pay.