Background

Social care providers may have seen a recent article in the Guardian entitled “Modern slavery: the next social care scandal?” in which they report that foreign nationals working in social care could be victims of exploitation, trafficking and forced labour.

Given the intense pressure on care providers to recruit and retain staff, they are prime targets for agencies that are, in fact, human trafficking into the UK, the Guardian reports. The Guardian suggests that, based on its investigations, the next target for the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (now Gangmasters Licensing Authority) will, therefore, be the social care sector.

According to the article, the Modern Slavery Helpline has received calls from individuals worried about the welfare of their care workers and inquiries from concerned social work professionals. It is important to note that the Care Quality Commission has stated that it has not seen any evidence that any registered social care provider in England is being used as a conduit for illegal human trafficking.

That said, the remit of the renamed Gangmasters Licensing Authority widens later this year to cover the whole of the UK labour market, calls are being made for a formal investigation into the sector. Human trafficking is clearly a key concern for the sector, and, therefore, those working in the care sector should be vigilant.

Modern Slavery Act 2015 – Key issues

Businesses will be aware that in October 2015, and to tackle the growing human trafficking issue, the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA) was introduced in the UK.

The most relevant section for businesses of the MSA is section 54, which requires organisations over a certain size to disclose what activities they have undertaken to eliminate slavery and human trafficking from their supply chains and their own business. Affected employers are required to produce a so-called “slavery and human trafficking statement” every financial year that sets out the steps they are taking to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any of their supply chains or any part of their own business.

To assist providers with managing any potential human trafficking issues, and comply with the MSA, we have produced a toolkit highlighting requirements of the Act and providing a sample human trafficking statement as well as an MSA policy.

For more information

For further advice or information concerning the MSA or issues facing the care sector, and how they might affect your organisation, please get in touch with your usual contact or speak to Anna Dabek.

To purchase a copy of our toolkit, created to help employees fulfil their obligations under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, get in touch with Lynsey Harrison - 0121 214 3615, lynsey.harrison@anthonycollins.com.