Pukka Herbs on Modern slavery

Does your company have a policy to prevent human trafficking?


Caring for People, Plants and Planet are at the heart of everything we do at Pukka and so ensuring that everyone we work with is treated respectfully is fundamental to us. As an organic business, the protection of human rights is an essential part of our certification with the Soil Association. Clause 40.2.12 requires us to not use forced or involuntary labour or child labour that interferes with their education. The Soil Association audit our performance against organic standards every year and we have never had any incident of non-compliance with human rights.

In addition, many of our products and/or their constituent ingredients are Fairtrade orFairWild certified which provides further independent verification of fair labour conditions, including the prevention of the use of forced, bonded or child labour. Our sourcing policy commits us to using certified ‘Fair’ raw materials where the quality and availability are appropriate and conducting internal supplier audits to ensure that producers have good working conditions and are fairly remunerated for their work, regardless of certification status.

Our current human rights policy commits us to not using forced, bonded or child labour in any of the projects we are connected with. This policy is currently under review to include draft updates made in 2014 to the Fairtrade Standard. This will include a statement (which will be applicable to all suppliers) that we will not directly or indirectly submit workers less than 18 years of age to any type of work which puts their health, safety or morals and their school attendance at risk. Our policy development is guided by International Labor Organization Conventions and Recommendations, National Law and best practice, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

All team members are introduced to the importance of human rights as part of their induction and we are currently investigating a mechanism to have a more formalised approach to training on this and other issues.

We audit our suppliers, taking a risk-based approach, to verify the working habits on the farms. We have never encountered any issues of forced or bonded labour, but due to the agricultural systems we work with, children are sometimes present. This enables children to be part of the integrated community life-style and learn necessary agricultural skills and gain knowledge.

Nevertheless, if we do find children present, we investigate to ensure that they are over 12 years old and that the work that they are involved in is not harmful to their wellbeing and is outside of school hours. This is in accordance with ILO Convention 138 Minimum Age Convention.

Answered at 05:40PM on 20 Sunday Sep 2015

The protection of human rights is embodied in international laws and several conventions that are binding on nation states and are therefore reflected in most national laws. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights “apply to all States and to all business enterprises, both transnational and others, regardless of their size, sector, location, ownership and structure.” These principles establish that all businesses have an explicit role in the realisation of human rights through a responsibility to respect them and to takes steps to avoid infringing the rights of others and to address any adverse human impact as a result of their corporate activity. It is referred to as the “Protect, Respect and Remedy” framework. It challenges business to identify, prevent and end human trafficking and to ensure that no forced, bonded or child labour is engaged in the production or sourcing either its own organisation or across its supply chain.

Abuse of labour is not an issue limited to developing countries and people trafficking is the fastest growing crime around the world today. Due to the hidden and illegal nature of human trafficking and forced labour, gathering statistics is difficult and the problem may be underestimated. Credible and frequently quoted statistics suggest at least 20.9 million people are victims of forced labour worldwide and conservative 2012 research estimated trafficking victims as comprising some 44 per cent of this figure. Based on the 2005 global estimate of human trafficking, the International Labour Organization has calculated that traffickers and unscrupulous employers earn at least US$32 billion annually.

Forced labour occurs in every country, including the United Kingdom. In 2013 the UK National Referral Mechanism (NRM) received 1746 referrals of potential victims of trafficking. These victims were reported to be from 112 countries of origin, with the UK being the fifth most common country of origin indicating that trafficking occurs within national borders as well as across them.

In the developed world, forced labour occurs primarily in industries that depend on casual and temporary labour, offer low-wages and predominantly subcontract, which often makes it hard to track along the supply chain. Such abuses are most likely to be found in agriculture (along with related businesses, such as food processing and packing), in construction, in the services sector (restaurants, hotels, domestic work and care homes) and the sex trade. As well as the damage to the individual, wider society may also suffer the negative effects of the criminal activity generally associated with forced and bonded labour. All businesses, whatever the service provided or trade offered, product sold or money invested, are potentially at risk of being affected by this issue, with consequent legal, operational, financial and reputational damage.

Some forced or bonded workers may be trafficked children. Other children may take on work ‘voluntarily’ as a means of survival. However, very many children work within their family or their community as a way of imparting knowledge and skills they will need in adult life, such as subsistence farming or some craft workers. As pointed out by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and other child and labour advocacy groups, the question of acceptable or unacceptable work done by those under 18 years old is a complicated one that is dependent on numerous factors, including the child's age, type of work and conditions they work in. A blanket ban on ‘child labour’ would be unfortunate if it affected children safely engaged in useful work that contributes to their family.

Besides the UNGPs, there are other guidelines that have been published to promote best practices for business in how they manage the rights of children. In 2012, UNICEF, the UN Global Compact and Save the Children launched “Children's Rights and Business Principles” to promote best practices and offer guidelines for business. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) also promotes tools and guidance to deal with forced and bonded labour. Most initiatives emphasise the refinement and strengthening of existing business responsibility practices. The first step is to recognise that a problem exists.

Trafficking in persons

The UN defines ‘Trafficking in persons’ as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”

Forced Labour

‘Forced Labour’ is defined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention No. 29 as all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily. The individual may be paid little or no wages for the work. Another example is an employer holding the identity papers or travel documents of workers so they are unable to leave their employment.

Bonded Labour

‘Bonded labour’ refers to one form of forced labour, which is work exacted from a person as means of repayment for a loan or a debt. Such bondage is designed to hold the person in perpetual servitude, long after the value of the original debt has been paid off. It may even be inherited. Debt bondage is the most widely used method of enslaving people, with at least 20 million bonded labourers around the world according to the ILO.

Child Labour

‘Child Labour’ is characterised by the ILO as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. Children have rights as stated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, “which include rights to adequate food, shelter, clean water, formal education, primary health care, leisure and recreation, cultural activities and information about their rights.”

Answering YES

All Businesses MUST

Describe their business sector and number of employees

Describe their organisational structure, their business and their value chains

Describe any policies they may have which relate to slavery and human trafficking

Describe any due diligence processes in relation to slavery and human trafficking in business and value chains

Describe any parts of the business or its supply chains where there is a risk of slavery and human trafficking taking place, and the steps they have taken to assess and manage that risk

Explain whether they have been effective in ensuring that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in the business or in its value chains, measured against such performance indicators as are considered appropriate

Describe any training about slavery and human trafficking which is available to staff

Identify how your business model may create pressure points that could facilitate or promote modern slavery, and what steps have been taken to minimise them

All Businesses MAY

Have this policy signed and endorsed by the director, partner, or a designated member

State where this policy is published on their website and provide a hyperlink, if available

Describe any other good practice they implement, such as setting out directives/guidelines for employees to follow should any form of human trafficking be discovered in the value chain

State whether they are members or supporters of any organisations seeking to improve labour standards or work against trafficking

State how far down their value chains they investigate and describe how that depth of scrutiny is determined

Explain what they would do in the event of uncovering human rights abuses in the value chain

Explain if and how they go beyond minimum legal compliance to ensure best practices

Explain whether they engage with governments on issues that contribute to modern slavery and seek to positively influence the political agenda

Describe how you mitigate risk based on your operating model

Identify key areas of concern or uncertainty relating to modern slavery

Describe how Modern Slavery policies and practices fare when the business faces challenges

Outline the KPIs and conditions relating to human rights and modern slavery in your supplier contract

Explain how you identify high risk customers and clients, and outline which circumstances would lead you to not do business with another organisation, relating to slavery

Large and Multinational Corporations (MNCs) MUST

State how frequently their practices and policies are reviewed

If they operate internationally, state if their policies against human trafficking differ from one country to another

Explain any differences if they exist

Answering NO

All Businesses MUST

Explain why they do not or cannot answer YES to this question, listing the business reasons and other reasons that apply

Explain what actions they have taken to identify and eliminate the risks of forced labour, slavery, human trafficking, and child labour within their supply chains, in the absence of such policies

All Businesses MAY

List any practices that are relevant, but not sufficient to answer YES

Mention any future intentions regarding this issue

DON'T KNOW is not a permissible answer to this question

NOT APPLICABLE is not a permissible answer to this question

Version 1

To receive a score of 'Excellent'

Prevention of human trafficking is a strategic business issue

e.g. organisation possibly established to ensure good labour conditions
e.g. statement of philosophy or values with regard to human trafficking
e.g. membership of UN Global Compact
e.g. staff and other stakeholders are fully involved (supply chain etc.)
e.g. actions taken to prevent forced etc. labour measured and monitored,
e.g. audit implemented down the supply chain
e.g. due diligence when awarding contracts
e.g. developing innovative ways to work with supply chain
e.g. strong track record in practical ways of protecting labour
e.g. cited as an exemplar in its sector

To receive a score of 'Good'

The business has established clear practices to prevent trafficking

e.g. statement of philosophy or values with regard to human rights
e.g. clear policies and practices easily implemented across the organisation
e.g. staff and other stakeholders engaged
e.g. undertaken audit (or similar) in supply chain or for contractors
e.g. actions to reduce risk of labour abuse measured and monitored
e.g. has a demonstrably good track record

To receive a score of 'Okay'

The business has ad hoc policies or procedures for dealing with human trafficking or has made a statement that human trafficking is a not an issue for the business sector

e.g. explains why not an issue in the particular business sector
e.g. statement of commitment to preventing human rights abuse but evidence only of intermittent practices
e.g. explains why not monitored or measured consistently
e.g. knows the suppliers personally
e.g. may piggy-back on published audits by other respected
companies for overseas supply chain
e.g. may use recognised certifications

To receive a score of 'Poor'

No evidence of any practices to prevent human trafficking

e.g. the business acknowledges performance below expectations
e.g. statement of future intent to improve
e.g. no action apparent

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