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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.

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. 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 the 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 and 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 modem 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).


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 PCs and laptops is affiliated to Electronics Watch who audit the supply chains of a number of our main electronics suppliers.

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

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. 


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

Developments In 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 savery in supply chains.

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:

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

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

Professor Saul Tendler
Acting Vice-Chancellor

7 May 2019

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