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In international trade there remains the potential for even the most ethical of businesses to unwittingly harbor modern slavery practices in their supply chain.  So what should we all be doing to help eradicate modern slavery?  Ever since our business was founded in 2009 Centuries have have maintained appropriate methods of assessing, preventing and mitigating risk of the infringement of human rights occurring in our supply chain.

In our opinion it is the responsibility of every business regardless of size to be mindful of the potential for Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking in its supply chain, and to take steps to police its supply chain accordingly – in addition to the ethical considerations, it’s just good business to know your supply chain.  I’ve travelled to the Far East and elsewhere in the world on a number of occasions to make supply chain audits on behalf of Centuries clients, and over my career I’ve seen first-hand both good and bad examples of the way in which labour forces have been treated by their employers.  While we should always be mindful of cultural differences, and what is considered appropriate in different cultures, in no way is it acceptable for a human being to be treated as a commodity.

Modern slavery takes various forms, such as slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking, all of which have in common the deprivation of a person’s liberty by another in order to exploit them for personal or commercial gain. Since its introduction in 2015 Section 54(1) of the Modern Slavery Act requires businesses supplying goods or services in the UK with a turnover of £36m or more to publish an annual Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement (a “Statement”). The turnover threshold includes the turnover of any subsidiaries. An employer’s slavery and human trafficking statement should include information on:

  • its structure, business and supply chains;
  • its policies in relation to slavery and human trafficking;
  • its due diligence processes in relation to slavery and human trafficking in its business and supply chains;
  • the parts of its business and supply chains where there is a risk of slavery and human trafficking taking place, and the steps that it has taken to assess and manage that risk;
  • its effectiveness in ensuring that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in its business or supply chains, measured against such performance indicators as it considers appropriate; and
  • the training about slavery and human trafficking available to its staff.
  • Employers should publish the modern slavery statement on their website and include a link to the statement in a prominent place on the homepage.

For our part, although we are well below the financial threshold, most of our clients are larage enough to require us to have a policy in place and we are always happy to report that Centuries conducts business in line with a set of ethical values which are reflected in our relationships with our customers, stakeholders, suppliers and team members.  Whilst we accept that we cannot directly control the conduct of individuals and organisations in our supply chain, Centuries expect all who have, or seek to have, a business relationship with our company, to familiarise themselves with and act at all times in a way which is consistent with our commitment to act ethically and with integrity in all matters.  A zero-tolerance approach to modern slavery is communicated to all our suppliers, contractors and business partners at the outset of our business relationship with them and reinforced as appropriate thereafter.

Centuries are committed to opposing modern slavery in all its forms and preventing it by whatever means we can and we have introduced effective systems and controls to ensure modern slavery is not taking place anywhere in our own business or those of our suppliers.   We will not tolerate circumstances where our supply chain involves the deprivation of a person’s liberty by another in order to exploit them for personal or commercial gain.  We take every possible precaution to avoid the risk of slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking in our supply chain.  The prevention, detection and reporting of modern slavery in any part of our business or supply chains is the responsibility of everyone involved in our business.  Anyone regardless of whether they are an employee, subcontractor or supplier who has concerns regarding a particular act, the treatment of workers more generally, or the working conditions within any tier of our supply chain is encouraged to report any concerns that they may have to the Managing Director Ben Wyatt.  Centuries will support anyone who raises genuine concerns in good faith under this Policy, even if they turn out to be mistaken.

Our staff receive training to increase awareness of the issues and as part of our contracting processes, we include specific prohibitions against the use of forced, compulsory or trafficked labour, or anyone held in slavery or servitude.  Our individual translators are recruited by means of their membership of specific accredited organisations who operate a consistent process of examination and peer review.  We ensure that all our workers are paid at least the appropriate minimum wage and are not subjected to excessive working hours or unsafe working conditions.

Sadly regardless of the measures taken by ethical businesses, Modern slavery still exists, and it’s up to us as citizens to do our best to eradicate it by looking out for the signs.   Don’t be complicit, think twice about patronising companies that offer products or services at ridiculously low prices – ask yourself whether that business can afford to pay their staff properly.  Many enslaved people are harder to identify since they are working behind closed doors as domestic servants working for couples or families.  If you suspect that someone is being exploited, call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700