A Proactive response to tackling modern slavery in the UK

A Proactive Response to Tackling Modern Slavery in the UK

We may be learning to deal with Covid-19 but there is another pandemic which hides in plain sight and impacts every industry without many of us realising. In this blog post, Kerry Chapman, Regional Director and Head of Operations & Compliance at Proactive Personnel, discusses what we are doing as a company to tackle Modern Slavery in the UK and how you can spot the signs of people that may be in need.

“It is simply not acceptable for any organisation to say, in the 21st Century, that they did not know [about slavery in the supply chain]… By increasing supply chain accountability, more workers will be protected and consumers will have greater confidence in the foods and services they buy.” Theresa May

I had always considered myself to be a conscientious recruiter and was trained to ‘interview’ my candidates, not just register them. I took pride in identifying their strengths in order to find them the best new placement. I would often get to know my candidates very well and know their personal circumstances from the simple things like hobbies and interests to how their dependants impact their day. A person’s job is an important part of their life and we are all wanting to move towards achieving a better work-life balance. So understanding what made my candidates ‘tick’ became far more important.

However, I never quite realised how my relationship with my candidates could identify far more if I knew what to look for, and how I could have helped more. Not all candidates will open up to you and depending on what sector you work, the information-gathering can be very different. This means there is no magical formula that can be applied to all candidate registrations and engagements. One shoe certainly doesn’t fit all but going with your ‘gut instinct’ does make a good starting point.

Since 2015 and the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act, all recruiters have had a wakeup call and are making a conscious effort to identify victims and support our clients in raising the alarm and gaining the protection these victims need.

As a recruitment company, Proactive is involved in the sourcing and placing of candidates into jobs within a wide range of sectors – this comes with great responsibility. The increase in Modern Slavery cases in the UK has meant that all recruiters need to be more aware of the warning ‘red flags’, as perpetrators constantly try to stay one step ahead of us.

Spotting the Signs – Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Is the candidate alone or is someone speaking /acting on their behalf?
  • Can the candidate communicate with us without support?
  • Do they seem frightened, nervous or controlled?
  • Are they in receipt of their personal belongings? e.g. Passport, Bank Cards or phone?

Though Slavery was abolished in the UK in 1807, it is still very much a problem in our country. After drug trafficking, Modern Slavery is the 2nd most profitable crime sector and impacts people throughout the world. This reality means as recruiters, we have a duty of care to not only identify and act on concerns when we first meet candidates, but we need to have measures in place to protect the potential victims and work with our clients in the supply chain as the victims may deteriorate over time and after we have placed the candidate. Not all signs will be visible in our interview rooms.

Proactive Personnel Ltd reached the qualifying criteria for Modern Slavery in 2020. Our Modern Slavery Statement is on our website, and all our staff receive Modern Slavery Training to make them aware of the ‘warning flags’. Our teams know that all departments within the business can encounter potential Modern Slavery issues, from our front of house staff to our credit controllers.

Our relationships with our clients have been strengthened by this act as now, more than ever, we have a duty of care to the candidates which is shared with the companies we supply staff to – we both look to act-upon any information given, our observations and continued auditing support. We are now working with Stronger Together to provide Proactive and our clients with the best support in dealing with Modern Slavery in the UK.

Our continued efforts as a recruiter and all our supply chain businesses can only help to reduce this area of crime. Proactive Personnel Ltd is also Gangmaster Licenced by the GLAA and commits to ethical trading.  Modern Slavery is not a ‘tick box’ exercise, it’s a continual process to identify, investigate and protect our candidates and it’s a challenge we are passionate about and committed to.