Ending Modern Slavery
The Home Office estimates there are 13,000 victims and survivors of modern slavery in the UK. This is a truly astonishing and disturbing statistic. Tough new penalties have been introduced under the UK’s 2015 Modern Slavery Act to tackle this problem.
The pioneering legislation gives police officers and other enforcement agencies the tools they need to crack down on employers exploiting and enslaving workers, and to support victims.
It is the first legislation of its kind in Europe, and promises penalties for offenders, including life jail sentences and enforced business closure.
The cleaning industry has a reputation for a high staff turnover, and while the best contract cleaners will have a progressive attitude towards their workforce – to improve staff retention and safety – there are other unscrupulous agencies that do not.
Forced labour and domestic servitude are highlighted as examples of modern slavery, and it is important that the cleaning industry takes responsibility for safeguarding its employees against this type of injustice.
There have been disturbing examples of managers who know that their staff are working illegally, and take advantage of that fact – such as the case of managers at an NHS cleaning company that were arrested on suspicion of blackmailing foreign staff.
The NHS is working hard to support all its staff across the front line and beyond, and has published a video to help staff understand the signs and symptoms of Modern Slavery and how to support victims.
We all have responsibilities to ensure that facilities being cleaned and cleaning operatives themselves stay safe. Everyone has the right to work in secure environments, and taking extra steps to be certain that cleaners are who they say they, and have the right to legally work in the UK, is key to safeguarding them, as well the facility they are cleaning.