Published by the BSI, this document is a draft for public comment. It is for use by organisations in managing modern slavery risks in their operations, supply chains and wider operating environment.
For this standard, the term modern slavery is used as an umbrella term that covers a set of specific legal concepts including forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, slavery and slavery-like practices, and human trafficking. Modern slavery focuses attention on commonalities across these legal concepts.
Essentially, it refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, and/or abuse of power.
This British Standard uses a risk-based approach to help organisations understand the risk of modern slavery and how to manage and reduce this risk as part of legal and non-legal frameworks. It encourages organisations to go beyond legal and statutory duties and address the wider risks associated with modern slavery. The British Standard is applicable to all organisations, regardless of type, size and nature of activity. Organisations of all types and sizes can contribute, cause or be linked to modern slavery practices in their supply and value chains. Organisations have a responsibility to understand modern slavery risk to their business and whether they can be implicated due to their activities and business relationships.
It is the responsibility of organisations to understand and respond to the specific risk of modern slavery. Organisations can vary in understanding and responding to the risk of modern slavery and have different degrees of resources and leverage. Thus, this standard should be complemented by cross-functional expert knowledge tailored to the nature and industry of the organisation and associated risks.
This British Standard recognises the changing nature of modern slavery and related human rights legal instruments both on national and international levels. It does not intend to replace these frameworks. It is the organisation’s responsibility to comply with all relevant legislation.
Modern slavery risk factors
Modern slavery practices can occur in any country or industry sector. However, there are some factors that can increase modern slavery risks, such as:
Geography: countries or regions with poor labour market governance (eg restricted freedom of association and/or collective bargaining) or legal accountability for rights violations can present an elevated risk of modern slavery. Organisations should take a risk-based approach to value chains reaching into territories in which these features are present.
Labour market structure: countries, regions or sectors that are dominated by a single industry or a single or small number of employers can render workers more vulnerable as a result of a lack of employment choices for workers.
Migration for work: lower skilled or poorly protected migrant workers can be at great risk of modern slavery abuses. These can manifest themselves during the recruitment of workers in labour source countries and in their treatment at work in labour destination countries.
Discrimination: in some countries or regions, discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, caste, tribal group, religion and other factors can render workers more vulnerable to modern slavery risk.
Long and opaque value chains: highly complex global business models can lead to a lack of appropriate governance and oversight mechanisms and an elevated risk of modern slavery. Similarly, positive influence and/or leverage can be difficult to exert in business relationships, such as joint ventures.
Corruption: corrupt business practices are often a root cause of modern slavery abuses.
Vulnerable groups of people: there are particular individuals and groups that might be more at risk to modern slavery; these are explored in the document.
Comments must be sent by 23 February 2022. The document is available here.
BSI December 2021