Tackling modern slavery in high volume recruitment

Posted by Andrew Wallis on the 31st July 2018 in

How do human traffickers manage to infiltrate legitimate, law-abiding companies? The truth is, they do it in so many ways, but there are certain areas that we now know are far riskier than others. When businesses suddenly need a larger workforce at peak times to meet demand, this creates an elevated risk of modern slavery.

Traffickers have often targeted recruitment agencies who deal with high volume, temporary staff, and even when doing all the legal documentation checks, exploited individuals can go unnoticed. That’s why it is so important for businesses, and particularly employment agencies to know what to look for.

On the surface, everything can look above board, but when we take the time to dig a little deeper, this may not be the case. Reports of more than ten employees all having the same address or bank details have revealed that these individuals were probably being controlled by someone, and not getting any of the money they’ve earned. Groups of people being dropped off together for their shift in a warehouse, or being fearful of their manager, or looking withdrawn, scared and malnourished are all tell-tale signs that they maybe being exploited by someone.

To tackle this huge issue, my organisation, Unseen and our partner PMP Recruitment have launched an awareness campaign called Be Seen, Be Heard this week to raise awareness of modern slavery across the labour and supply chain industries.

The campaign is aimed at businesses who rely on high volume recruitment, to break down the taboos, change the industry’s approach to tackling slavery and ensure that everyone knows how to spot the signs and report suspicions. People also need to understand that identifying modern slavery incidents just means their strategy is actually working.

The campaign will have a big impact on PMP’s logistics staff and warehouse operatives as all their high vis jackets will now have the Modern Slavery Helpline number (08000 121 700) printed on them. By promoting the Helpline, people will know where to report suspicious activity, and support victims in finding the confidence to come forward and seek help. They’re also selling Helpline branded merchandise for other businesses to buy, donating the profits to Unseen. If you want to buy Helpline branded merchandise for your business, you can make an order through Unseen’s website.

I’m proud to join forces with PMP Recruitment in such an initiative and hope that others in this sector will get involved. The more people who join us in trying to tackle this issue, the greater impact we’ll have at stamping out forced labour.