BS25700:2022: Organisational responses to Modern Savery Guidance – how does this standard fit into the bigger picture of National and International law?
On Monday the 16th of April, I am honoured to be invited to address this question on a panel at the House of Lords, along with some other key experts that participated in the BSI committee developing the standard.
Does the standard create new legal obligations?
The standard is a guidance document. It does not create legal obligations and it is not legislation in itself. Standards are agreed ways of doing something. Businesses that want to go above and beyond compliance with the law are incentivised to use standards to demonstrate they are doing so.
BS25700 complements the UK Modern Slavery Act (MSA) by providing organisations with a reference on how to address their internal structure to help assist them on how to meet their reporting requirements. It aims to educate, guide and encourage organisations to manage the risk of modern slavery in their organisations and supply chains. It also complements the MSA by encouraging organisations go to beyond legal compliance.
Leading business beyond compliance
I have always believed that businesses must go beyond compliance to effectively address and root out issues such as modern slavery from their operations and supply chains. While legislation, such as the MSA was a major positive move in the right direction, modern slavery remains a growing problem across the globe and it is time to ramp up efforts to eradicate it.
As the first standardised framework of its kind to specifically address the problem of modern slavery, the standard complements the MSA but encourages organisations to ensure that they do not take a ‘tick box approach’ . It also recognises that modern slavery practices sit at the extreme end of the continuum of exploitation, ranging from ‘decent work’ to severe forms of labour exploitation. These basic human rights principles are echoed in core international frameworks such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNPGs) and the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights to Work and the sustainable development goals ( SDGs). The standard reflects the need for organisations to identify its obligations and to maintain its social licence to operate taking the legal and boundary international framework requirements into account.
Supply chain due diligence and risk management :
One of the key requirements in both the MSA and other supply chain due diligence legislation is the adoption of a risk -based approach. Organisations are required to identify the risk of modern slavery and take responsibility to address these risks. BS25700 uses a risk-based approach to help organisations understand and respond to to modern slavery issues in their organisations and supply chains. It is intended to be used by all organisations, notwithstanding their size, to integrate it into their current systems. It is intended to complement other actives that address the risk of modern slavery and not replace it.
In my own experience there are two critical requirements for companies to address the risk of modern slavery effectively. First, there must be leadership at board level that instils a culture of ‘doing the right thing’ and secondly training that is fit for purpose.
Free copy of the standard available:
The standard is free to download here: https://www.bsigroup.com/en-GB/standards/bs-25700/
How can Ardea help?
Ardea International has supported many organisations in addressing these requirements, working with executive teams, boards and managers. Our consultancy services harness our legal expertise to support organizations develop appropriate policies and procedures to underpin the legal and best practice requirements. If you want to know more get in touch with me https://calendly.com/colleen-theron/15min
We have a range of training available at bespoke level and also as part of our Academy.
If you are interested in joining a 6-week in-depth training and support programmer our IEMA-accredited END slavery programme will be running from the 6th of June: with CPD points: https://www.ardeainternational.com/education/end-slavery-programme/
We also have workshops on how to improve your modern slavery statement: https://www.ardeainternational.com/education/improving-your-modern-slavery-statement-masterclass/
And integrating modern slavery into sustainable procurement: https://www.ardeainternational.com/education/sustainable-procurement-integrating-modern-slavery-risk/
Access our free webinar discussions on the topic:
Contact us to see how we can support you.