Awareness of Modern Slavery in the Workplace
Modern slavery is a human rights issue that persists in the 21st century. It takes many forms, with one of the most alarming being its presence within the workplace. While it might seem like a distant problem, modern slavery can be much closer to home than you think. To combat this issue effectively, it’s essential for everyone to understand how to spot the signs of modern slavery within the workplace. This blog will provide you with insights on how to recognise these signs and act against this appalling crime.
Whilst it is hard to estimate the full extent of modern slavery in the UK, the Home Office states:
people were identified as potential victims of modern slavery in 2021. This is the highest number of referrals since records began in 2009.
or 5,468 of these victims were children.
of referrals were British nationals.
Understanding Modern Slavery
Before diving into the signs, it’s crucial to properly understand what modern slavery is. Modern slavery encompasses various forms of exploitation, including forced labour, human trafficking, debt bondage, and child labour. It is a hidden crime that can occur in various industries and job sectors, often masked by deceptive practices.
Signs of Modern Slavery in the Workplace
Recognising the signs of modern slavery within the workplace is essential. Here are some key indicators to watch out for:
Employees receiving wages far below the legal minimum wage or standard industry rates should raise red flags. Sometimes, the pay is intentionally withheld, or deductions are made for fabricated reasons.
Workers enduring long hours with little, or no overtime pay may be victims of forced labour. They might be living onsite or working inhumane schedules.
Modern slavery often involves restricting the movement of employees, making it difficult for them to leave the workplace. Be alert to signs of employees who are closely monitored or cannot freely come and go.
If workers are forced to live in inhumane conditions on or near the workplace, it could be a sign of exploitation. Check for overcrowded housing, lack of basic amenities, and unsanitary facilities.
Victims of modern slavery may suffer from physical violence or psychological coercion. Look out for signs of fear, depression, anxiety, or unexplained injuries among your colleagues.
Employees without proper identification or work permits might be at risk. Employers may confiscate documents to control and manipulate their workforce.
Many victims of modern slavery are coerced into paying high recruitment fees to secure their job, often resulting in debt bondage. Watch for colleagues struggling with significant debts or loans.
Child labour is a blatant form of modern slavery. Be aware of underage workers who might be illegally employed.
Reporting Suspicious Activity
If you observe any of these signs within your workplace, it’s essential to act. Reporting your concerns is crucial to combat modern slavery. Here’s what you can do:
If you feel comfortable doing so, discuss your concerns with your company’s HR department. They can investigate and take appropriate action.
If you believe the situation is severe, report it to local law enforcement. They can investigate and take legal action against the perpetrators.
Many organisations and charities are dedicated to combating modern slavery. Reach out to them for guidance and support.
Challenge-trg Group is partnered with Unseen, who are an anti-slavery charity running a modern slavery helpline, offering a wide range of support to victims and businesses. You can visit their website to find out more here.
We also support Ride for Freedom, and we aim to help them achieve their mission of harnessing the universal appeal of cycling to raise awareness, educate and forge partnerships to end modern slavery, and to provide remedy to survivors. Find out more about Ride for Freedom here.
If you suspect someone is a victim, try to inform them of their rights and available resources. They may be unaware of the help they can receive.
Promoting Awareness of Modern Slavery
Creating awareness is key to eliminating modern slavery within the workplace. Educate yourself and your colleagues about the signs, risks, and resources available to victims. Encourage your workplace to adopt ethical labour practices and engage in supply chain transparency to prevent exploitation.
By understanding the indicators, reporting suspicions, and promoting awareness, we can work together to protect the rights and dignity of vulnerable workers. Every individual and organisation has a role to play in the global effort to eradicate modern slavery, making the workplace a safer and fairer environment for all.
You can donate to Unseen & Ride for Freedom by clicking the links below. Every penny supports their efforts in tackling and ending modern slavery. Please donate if you can.