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Slavery and human trafficking statement

The following statement is made by the University of York in acknowledgement of section 54(1) part 6 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and sets out the steps that the University has taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking are not taking place in our supply chains or in any part of our core activities. This annual statement covers the 2019/20 financial year which ended 31st July 2020.

Our Organisational Structure

A member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities, we are committed to high quality research across a wide range of disciplines. We have over 30 academic departments and research centres and a student body of around 18,000.

Our Policies and Actions to Prevent Slavery and Human Trafficking

The University of York has a Code of Practice and Principles for Good Ethical Governance which it follows when undertaking any academic activities, this is reinforced in the University’s Strategic Aims for delivering research for the public good. The code gives particular consideration to activities conducted overseas or in collaboration with overseas partners, in countries/under regimes with poor human rights record or identified as dangerous by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

It is a condition of employment with the University, irrespective of the type and duration of contract, that successful candidates are able to prove they are legally entitled to work in the UK. All potential employees are asked to bring original documents, demonstrating their right to work in advance of their start date.  Right to work documents are checked for all employees prior to them undertaking any work for the University.



In terms of our supply chain, we are working in collaboration with Netpositive Futures and have continued to embed an online supplier engagement tool, developed in conjunction with the Stockholm Environment Institute at York, which increases awareness of sustainability issues and allows us to:

  • Establish a single mechanism to engage contracted suppliers with the issues of Modern Slavery.
  • Provide support and guidance to our supply base and share best practice.
  • Track the actions being taken and progress being made by our supply chain in addressing aspects of modern slavery.

In addition, the University is now registered in its own right with the Netpositive supplier engagement tool as a provider of services to other organisations.

Areas of Risk of Slavery and Human Trafficking

We recognise that the main risk of slavery and human trafficking is in the high spend supply chain areas of Property Management & Construction, IT, Laboratory Supplies and Catering. Through work on our supplier engagement tool we will be addressing each area of spend in turn to look at the strategies our supply chain has in place to ensure the risk of slavery and human trafficking is minimised.

Property Management and Construction

Property management and construction constitute the second largest area of the University’s expenditure and, as such, presents an area of influence in reducing the risks of modern slavery occurring in the supply chain. While due diligence is carried out on the employment practices of contractors, another area of risk is how building materials are produced. All timber related products procured by the University are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified with full chain of custody meaning the timber and timber products are from suppliers who maintain or enhance the social or economic wellbeing of their workers (The Ten FSC Principles).

IT

The University uses a number of framework agreements in the IT equipment and consumables area. In this area, the purchasing consortia who own these frameworks take active steps to mitigate the risk of abuses occurring in supply chains. The consortium that manages the agreement we use for PC’s and Laptops is affiliated to Electronics Watch who audit the supply chains of a number of our main electronics suppliers.

Laboratory supplies

Laboratory consumables is an area at risk of slavery and human trafficking occurring, given the low value/high throughput nature of their production across factories in many countries. The purchasing consortium responsible for the framework agreements that the University uses are set to make all suppliers commit to the Base Code of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) when the next framework for laboratory consumables is established.

Catering

The University’s catering outlets provide Fairtrade/Rain Forest Alliance certification tea and coffee as standard offerings and the University is extending their availability across campus.

Developments In 2019/20

  • Continued to work with suppliers to develop their action plans to combat the risks of human trafficking and slavery occurring in supply chains.
  • Started mapping these action plans with supplier’s commodity areas and focus on developing plans in the areas deemed high risk.

The University undertakes an engagement programme with its key suppliers in order to address the risks associated with modern slavery and the actions in place to mitigate these risks. Generic supplier action plans to address the issue of modern slavery in supply chains are summarised below:

ISSUE

ACTION

Modern slavery is an issue for every business and we need to explore it

Develop a robust approach to removing Modern Slavery from your supply chains

Modern slavery is an issue for every business and we need to explore it

Publish a Modern Slavery Statement

Modern slavery is an issue for every business and we need to explore it

Provide Modern Slavery training for staff

Modern slavery is an issue for every business and we need to explore it

Engage with your suppliers about Modern Slavery

Modern slavery is an issue for every business and we need to explore it

Plan a response to the discovery of Modern Slavery in your business operations

2016/17

  • The University has established an Issues Log to monitor and investigate instances of exploitative working conditions within its supply chain.  
  • All suppliers who have indicated to the University they are unaware of the Modern Slavery Act have been contacted and provided with further information about the legislation and its implications.  
  • Awareness of the Modern Slavery Act as a result has increased among the supply chain, with suppliers who have identified they are aware of the Act up from 92% to 95%.

2017/18

  • Continued work to develop the Netpositive supplier engagement tool. Identified and approached our 50 highest spend suppliers in areas of high risk to encourage Modern Slavery action plans. 
  • Promotion of the University’s “speak up” (public interest disclosure) policy to highlight where staff can raise issues of concern around this subject.
  • Embedded the use of the sustainability Issues Log within the University and monitor any instances of mistreatment as they arise. 
  • Procurement Office has undergone training on Modern Slavery in supply chains. 

2018/19

  • We have contacted our top 50 suppliers by spend to develop specific action plans to address minimising the risk of slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains.
  • We have encouraged lower spend but high risk suppliers, such as in the areas of personal protective equipment and clothing, to also develop such action plans.
  • We have made available and promoted to all staff modern slavery training via the University’s Learning Management System and internal newsletter.

2019/20

  • Continued to work with suppliers to develop their action plans to combat the risks of human trafficking and slavery occurring in supply chains.
  • Started mapping these action plans with supplier’s commodity areas and focus on developing plans in the areas deemed high risk.

Commodity areas

Action plans have been mapped to the commodity code of each supplier. This analysis is then used to target the commodity areas identified as at high risk of human trafficking and slavery taking place within their supply chains.

A pie chart of the slavery and human trafficking statement

Our Future Actions

We will continue to implement and develop the following action plan to address the risks slavery and human trafficking represent in our supply chains and core operations: 

  • Using the commodity code mapping, the University will continue to target the key ‘at-risk’ areas and develop action plans from suppliers. 

This statement will be reviewed annually to monitor progress in minimising the risk of slavery and human trafficking occurring in any part of the University’s supply chains or core operations. Any queries regarding this statement should be addressed to sustainability@york.ac.uk.


This statement was approved by the University Executive Board on 12th January 2021