Slavery and human trafficking statement
Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 makes it a legal requirement for all commercial organisations with a turnover of £36 million or more to produce an annual Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement. Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) will continue to undertake what is required to be socially responsible and to protect the human rights of workers. To this end, this statement will be reviewed each year setting out the steps they have taken to prevent slavery and human trafficking in any part of their business and supply chain.
This statement sets out the actions FLS is taking to understand potential Slavery and Human Trafficking risks relating to our business and supply chain and to take the necessary steps to address these risks. This statement relates to actions and activities undertaken by FLS in the financial year 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.
With a significant presence in the forestry sector, FLS recognises our corporate and legal responsibility to take a robust approach to human trafficking.
Modern slavery: a definition
Modern slavery is an umbrella term that encompasses slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking. In Scotland, the legal definition of these offences is set out in the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015; hence where we refer to ‘human trafficking’, this includes the group of offences covered by this Act. The significant characteristic of all forms of human trafficking is that it involves one person depriving another person of their freedom: their freedom to leave one job for another; their freedom to leave one workplace for another; their freedom to control their own life.
Terms and conditions of employment
As an Executive Agency of Scottish Government, FLS employees are civil servants and already have safeguards incorporated into their terms and conditions of employment that assist in preventing some of the activities characteristic of human trafficking. Salaries, for example are paid into individual bank accounts, hourly rates are above the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage, annual leave entitlements are above the statutory minimum detailed in the Working Time Directive and employees have the opportunity to apply to work flexibly to help achieve a better work/life balance.
In addition to favourable employee terms and conditions, we have other measures in place that assist in preventing human trafficking. Every year FLS is independently audited to ensure we are meeting the standards laid out in the UK Woodland Assurance Scheme (UKWAS). Amongst other requirements, the standard sets out employee and contractor’s rights to trade union membership, pay exceeding the statutory national living wage, access to a grievance procedure and relevant measures relating to compliance and conformance (including anti-corruption) and workers’ rights (measuring compliance with workers’ rights legislation) .
FLS participates in the Civil Service People Survey on an annual basis to give our colleagues the opportunity to tell us their views about their job, our agency as an employer and any other workplace issues.
Our People Policies and Procedures are developed in consultation with Trade Union representatives and take account of our legal responsibility as an employer to take steps to prevent human trafficking.
Agency structure and supply chains
FLS was established as a new executive agency of the Scottish Government (SG) on 1 April 2019. The Chief Executive is supported by a Director of Land Management, Director of Estate Development and Directors of Business and Corporate Services, in addition to 3 Non-Executive Advisors. Our principle activity is to manage approximately half a million hectares of woodland and associated habitats, across the length and breadth of Scotland, on behalf of Scottish Ministers. This work is carried out by staff working in 5 distinct regions, each headed up by a Regional Manager and employing over 100 staff.
Their work includes the management and delivery of establishing and maintaining new woodland, felling and the sale of timber, restocking, maintaining and protecting existing woodlands, native woodland management, restoration and expansion, wildlife management and conservation, building and maintaining an access infrastructure to those woodlands, buildings management, renewable energy production and managing, developing and promoting access and enjoyment of the land. For more detailed information on our structure and activities please see our Corporate Plan.
Our supply chain includes a large number and broad spectrum of third party suppliers, contractors and our timber purchasing customers, providing both skilled and unskilled work, which can be manual, motor manual or machine based. There are also a significant number of organisations providing FLS with goods that could have either direct (chemicals supplied direct from manufacturer) or multi-tier (laptops with components sourced from across the world) supply chains ranging from but not limited to clothing, hardware, chemicals and equipment. A full list of our contracts is available on Public Contracts Scotland.
Our Procurement Team plays a key role in making sure these wider corporate activities are undertaken correctly and that our contracts and supply chains are risk assessed in respect of human trafficking, with appropriate mitigations taken to address these risks within our supply chains, as far as possible.
Countries of operation and supply
We currently operate in Scotland only. The majority of our land management work and services have shorter supply chains. Only a small number of our suppliers, primarily for IT goods, harvesting machinery and vehicles for example have extended supply chains which reach into other European countries and beyond.
We consider our highest risk areas for human trafficking within our business to be similar to those experienced internationally. These are in the areas of civil engineering, timber production (harvesting), haulage, new planting, restocking and spraying which are mostly now all carried out on contract.
These activities provide opportunities for the deployment of unfair and discriminatory working conditions and payment and in some areas of work, lower skilled and seasonal workers that are potentially more vulnerable to human trafficking.
A further risk occurs in the procurement of specific goods. For example, when procuring corporate work wear, the supply chains of materials and garments for the clothing sector are often manufactured outwith the EU in countries (e.g. Sri Lanka) that previously have experienced these practices and could continue to be exploited in this way.
Responsibility for the agency's prevention of human trafficking is as follows:
- Policies: Director of Business Services; Head of Finance and Procurement; Head of People and Organisational Development.
- Risk assessments: Health, Safety and Wellbeing. It is recognised that across the world the forestry sector is not free from human trafficking and that some of the work carried out in our woodlands (eg planting, harvesting) could provide opportunities for people exploitation.
- Investigations/due diligence: Procurement Team and Contract Managers. When procuring goods and/or services a User Intelligence Group (UIG) is set up. This includes a mix of procurement and technical expert(s) in the area being procured. This group undertakes risk identification and assessment of human trafficking risks in relation to the procurement. They do this by using the sustainable procurement tools and guidance that have been designed to help public bodies comply with policy and legislation, including how to take an ethical approach in their procurement activity. These were updated in September 2018 to ensure they take account of human rights considerations including the UN Guiding Principles and human trafficking and exploitation. They will subsequently ensure the correct specification is included in the tender and contract and that policy statements, certification or other items, indicating preventive action taken in relation to human trafficking, are supplied prior to any engagement. Where appropriate, contracts also contain third party auditing or other due diligence measures relating to human trafficking. An FLS Procurement Strategy and associated policy and compliance statements has been developed, which outlines the steps we will take to ensure departmental compliance with Scottish and wider European law on procurement and the prevention of human trafficking.
- Training and corporate knowledge: HR and Learning and Development Teams (collectively known as the People Team) are required to maintain a good working knowledge of employment law, including people trafficking and ensure this is reflected in our policies and procedures and in any communications that are disseminated to employees. The People Team have several independent sources of legal advice on specific topics which are used when required.
Our policies that set out our approach to the risk of modern slavery and steps to be taken to prevent slavery and human trafficking in its operations are listed below:
- Whistleblowing policy: we encourage all our employees and former employees to report any suspected wrongdoing related to the direct activities, or the supply chains of the agency. This includes any circumstances that may give rise to an enhanced risk of slavery or human trafficking. FLS Whistleblowing Procedure is designed to make it easy for employees to make disclosures, without fear of retaliation. Employees and former employees who have concerns can report suspected wrongdoing through their Line Manager, Head of Function, Chief Executive or a Nominated Officer.
- Civil Service Code: The Civil Service Code sets out the actions and behaviours expected of employees when at work or representing the Agency. We strive to maintain the highest standards of employee conduct and ethical behaviour in how we operate as a business and in managing our supply chain.
- Supplier Code of Conduct: FLS is committed to ensuring that its suppliers adhere to the highest standards of ethics. Suppliers are required to demonstrate they provide safe working conditions where necessary, treat workers with dignity and respect, and act ethically and within the law, in their use of labour. We work with suppliers to ensure they meet the standards of the code and improve their workers’ conditions. Customers and contractors are able to report their concerns through the FLS Complaints Procedure, if they feel a more informal approach through the contract manager is inappropriate.
We undertake due diligence when considering taking on new suppliers and regularly review our existing suppliers. These steps include:
- mapping the supply chain broadly on a contract by contract basis to assess particular product or geographical risks of human trafficking;
- evaluating the human trafficking risks of each new supplier by using the tools provided within the SPPN [this may be part of a more general human rights or labour rights assessment];
- assuring appropriate supplier audits or assessments through a third-party auditor as detailed on the now agreed work wear contract, which has a greater degree of focus on human trafficking where general risks were identified; and
- having appropriate optional termination clauses within our contracts, allowing us to take action where necessary. To date this action has not been required.
We reviewed our activities and the current position of the agency regarding human trafficking. As a result we undertook the following actions, detailed below prior to 31 March 2021 to meet SG requirements in relation to the topic.
We undertook further research and prepared for a planned staff awareness campaign for all staff, with additional targeted communications for specific groups of staff, where their work is associated with activities that carry a higher risk of human trafficking and modern day slavery, or where their ‘on the ground presence’ provides them with an increased likelihood of spotting the signs. The campaign aims to increase understanding and visibility of the topic in what are considered key risk areas of FLS’ outsourced activities.
We also took proportionate mitigating actions in specific ongoing procurement activities which we feel could pose a higher risk of human trafficking. That being said, it is notable that during this particular financial year, many of our business as usual procurement activities were paused for a large proportion of the year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We expanded our Procurement resource and continued to invest in the team’s professional development:
- we added a number of new Contract Officer posts into our procurement structure, which will help with our continual awareness raising on the topic of human trafficking and modern day slavery
- members of our Procurement Team undertook annual Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) refresher training on Ethical Procurement and Supply; including topics such as Human Trafficking, Forced Labour, Bribery and Corruption
- the procurement team undertook internal CPD training, focussing on serious and organised crime, including human trafficking and modern slavery.
We reduced risks through management of the Procurement Process:
- we continued to implement measures set out in Reducing the Risk of Human Trafficking and Exploitation in the Performance of Public Contracts: SPPN 3/2020. As set out in the policy we considered actions on a case by case basis to ensure relevance and proportionality.
- we continued to ensure that new contracts were let using our standard terms and conditions of contract. These include relevant clauses highlighting that suppliers must comply with environmental, social and employment law; they also detail the consequences of breach in these areas.
- we carried out bidder due diligence as part of the Procurement Process when tendering for work assessed as carrying a higher human trafficking risk involving supply chains both within and outside of the EU
- we worked on a first draft supplier code of conduct covering a number of topics, including human trafficking and modern slavery. Further work is now in the process of being carried out to finalise the draft, which will be published during 2021/22.
We developed training and awareness for our wider staff group:
- we developed an e-learning module for FLS staff based on best practice which already existed within the central government sector and updated this to reflect FLS processes and high risk activities. The e-learning is currently going through the final steps of approval and is expected to be launched for staff before the end of 2021.
- we continued to research through a wide range of material and selected what is considered the most suitable local and relevant material and video footage that would form part of our training and awareness.
- a Communications Strategy was drafted to promote our e-learning and to increase staff awareness to spot the signs and to know what to do if they suspect human trafficking is taking place within our agency or supply chains.
- we explored options and agreed to a targeted roll out of the ‘Unseen UK’ App for staff involved in higher risk activities, along with staff in Human Resources and Procurement during 2021/22
FLS Executive Team approval
This statement was approved on 20 October 2020 by the FLS Executive Team, and most recently updated on 23 September 2021. It is reviewed and updated annually.
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