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Worker exploitation: policy versus practice


Worker exploitation: policy versus practice

It is estimated that over 40 million people worldwide are directly impacted by modern slavery with just under 25 million being in forced labour. These figures demonstrate that modern slavery continues to impact many people globally and highlights the need for businesses to ensure the ethical treatment of people in their direct employment, and those working within their supply chains. Poor ethical business practices vary in severity from the most critical forms of modern slavery such as human trafficking to worker exploitation and practices affecting potentially huge numbers of workers. Construction and related industries have been identified as key sectors associated with modern slavery globally.

This report highlights the significant findings identified during audits carried out in the UK on construction projects and organisations operating within the construction supply chain; it has been compiled using anonymised data from 1,368 confidential worker interviews and 48 management system audits over the last 12 months. These audits are part of our Ethical Business Programme aimed to support businesses’ social and regulatory compliance, equip them with an action plan on how to tackle the problem, track the progress and get ahead of any form of unethical business practices.

Ethical Business Report key findings:

  • 26% of companies had not requested or verified appropriate right to work documentation
  • 17% of workers had been deducted up to 25% of their weekly wage via a range of non-standard deductions
  • 11% of companies were unable to demonstrate written terms and conditions had been issued to workers

This report looks at supplier data and provides recommendations on the following:

  • Eligibility to work
  • Wage deductions
  • Ensuring terms and conditions of employment
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