Your Modern Slavery Statement and the role of BS25700 By Helen Carter

In January I attended the official launch of the British Standard BS25700 Organisational responses to modern slavery – Guidance. Whilst speaking to a few people someone asked me “Why do we need the new standard? The Modern Slavery Act requires a statement and surely that is all that is needed?”

There are a few things to unpick in that question, namely that statements are still poorly written, and that aspect of the act still sees a less than 100% compliance rate.  In fact, the last statistics I saw from the Office for National Statistics puts compliance at 75%. It has taken 5 years to get that figure, and it is still quite a poor indictment of legal compliance in the UK.

As well as legal compliance, the quality of modern slavery statements also is quite disparate. The Government launched the ‘Transparency in Supply Chains guidance’ in October 2015, outlining what it sees as good practice in statement content and there are still statements out there that have no information relating to the guidance.

But the biggest challenge is people still see the Modern Slavery Act 2015 as a purely compliance issue. All an organisation must do is write a statement and not give care and consideration to the actions that need to be undertaken to shape the content of the statement itself.  Simply put: If you are not undertaking any due diligence activity you have little to say in your modern slavery statement.

This is where the standard helps. BS25700 provides the framework to define steps that your organisation should report on when addressing modern slavery.

I recently evaluated the standards contents and compared it to the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act’s reporting requirements and found that if you are embedding the requirements of the standard in your organisation, your statement writes itself every year (metaphorically, not literally – sorry!).

Below is a breakdown of how the standard supports information that is required in the statement as outlined in the act and the transparency in supply chain requirements provided by the government.

It will also support your organisation when uploading your statement onto the Government website and fill in the additional information required at this time.

Section 5 – A statement must contain the steps an organisation has taken to prevent modern slavery in its supply chains and own business.

Section 5.2 – A statement should aim to include information about

Section 8 – Responding to an incident of modern slavery

Any incident of modern slavery should be dealt with appropriately and relevant remedies made available to potential victims.

BS25700 – Sections 9.4.4 through to 9.4.7.5 outline remediation requirements outlining actions and processes an organisation should have in place.  This section includes:

  • Remediation process.
  • Incident response and investigation.
  • Processes for providing remedy.
  • Whistleblowing.
  • Communication of remediation provisions.

There are additional useful requirements that feed into a comprehensive statement and an effective due diligence system, that include:

  • Role of governance – Section 5.1.
  • Role of leadership and management – Section 5.2.
  • Recruitment and employment relations – Section 7.

The standard provides your framework and guidance on what effective organisational responses look like. Whether you are trying to pull together your annual statement or thinking about your approach to evidence a responsible business to your client, it has everything you need.

The British Standard is free to download and can be found here BS 25700:2022 Organisational responses to modern slavery – Guidance.

If you want to get a more detailed look at the procurement element of the standard, we will be running a face to face masterclass in London on the 23rd March 2023.

If you want to understand how Action Sustainability can support your organisation, please get in touch.

For more information

Helen Carter
Lead Consultant
Helen@actionsustainability.com

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