Modern Slavery Statement
Staples continued goal, is to identify, report and where possible driving out evidence of modern-day slavery and or human trafficking from the industry and we will ensure that our industry leading targets are achieved, maintained, and continually reviewed.
The business continues to recognise that our colleagues are our greatest assets and key to continued growth and success in the industry. Our aim is to make our business the first choice for employment. Through our continued commitment to the seasonal workers program, we can continue to offer continual employment for those who choose to return as part of the program. Our monitoring metrics for all returnees allows for future development of our colleagues, focussing on key strengths and development of personal goals.
Where possible we aim is to provide careers within the business as well as safe and hygienic working environments in which our colleagues can strive to achieve their fullest potential, in the pursuit of our common goal – producing food in a safe and sustainable way.
We are committed to providing:
- Clear and fair terms of employment for our colleagues
- Clean, healthy, and safe working conditions
- Equal opportunities for all employees, be current or potential employees
- Encouragement for employees to develop skills to allow progression in their careers
- Tools and training for the job at hand.
- Clear instruction to all employees on the companies’ policies on insider trading, bribery and inappropriate gifts, money laundering and whistle blowing
- A harmonious working environment with zero tolerance to bullying or to any form of harassment be it linked to an individual’s sex or any other personal characteristics.
It is a policy of Staples to ensure equal opportunity is maintained and recognises that this is essential in ensuring the wellbeing of all colleagues.
As in 2022 modern society continues to be tasked with looking at the longer-term effects of the war between Russia and the Ukrainian peoples and all other nations that have offered aid and support to the Ukrainian people during the Russian invasion of the Ukraine in February 2022. Not only have such as oil, fuel and energy prices adding to the cost of housing bills, but increased costs in fertiliser costs have increased costs of food production. The knock-on effect being higher living costs, adding additional stress and strain on households leading to greater risk of exploitation by those wishing to profit on those less fortunate.
Unfortunately, as with any negative effect on society, those who wish to profit on those less fortunate, will continue to operate, unless we all stand together and stand against such as Modern-day Slavery.
The Staples business continues to see growth across all areas including growing and packing. The business produces and despatches both conventionally and organically grown vegetables to multiple retail and non-retail markets. We, here at Staples are aware of the pressure that the industry demands in the pursuit of continuous compliance and the impact that modern society has. Our goal is to effectively manage the pressure, through continuous improvement and working together, through open-door dialogue with our working colleagues, our supply base here in the UK and further afield around Europe and our third-party certifiers, NGO’s, and our Local Government officials.
As an employer of over 1300 colleagues, Staples continues to focus on reducing any requirement for gang labour from its operation. In turn, our continued aim is to directly employ staff, whilst housing and servicing the needs of majority of its employees to ensure that their working days is safe but also, fundamentally enjoyable.
Policies instilled within the business are key to affectively managing the due diligence requirements needed to monitor, manage and review our procedures and agricultural practices. Our Humans Rights, Ethics & Equality Policy, along with other policies indicative of our compliance to the ETI base code, in turn asks our employees to turn ‘whistle blowers’, should they identify any breach of policy, or see evidence of discrimination, harassment, or any similar types of breach of ethics.
Our business has an open doors policy to our employees, but also to our customers and relevant certification bodies. We encourage our supply chain to follow suit. The introduction of semi-unannounced third party ethical auditing bodies, such as those auditing against – SMETA and Global Gap (Grasp) have proven invaluable in our pursuit of continual improvement.
Our Supply chain
Our business does not accept any form of Forced / bonded labour, either, from within or externally from our approved supply base. We therefore ensure that our approved suppliers and staff are fully aware of our stance. Our supplier approval program requires our supply base to comply with the elements and criteria, fundamental to our policies. Categorically we will not knowingly take supply or work with suppliers whom are involved in any element of slavery or human trafficking.
We ask our supply base to extend their knowledge of the ins and outs of Modern-day slavery, through collaboration and continued attendance at one of the several ethical trade forums, such as run by Conexion Social in Spain. Such forums are fully supported by majority of the UK retailers.
Due diligence and risk mitigations steps
To mitigate risks associated with Fresh product growing, sourcing and supplying to our customers, we aim to ensure all suppliers of produce and or services to Staples are compliant with SEDEX. We require our grower and supplier base to be registered and to have openly completed a self-assessment. We further require access to the business through SEDEX, to maintain transparency through the chain. Compliance from our labour providers to the requirements laid out by the GLAA is a given, but will be monitored and verified by our own team in compliance with our own due diligence requirements.
Direct links with our own transport teams, as well as our suppliers transport links aim to actively minimise the potential for illegal immigration. Our Vehicle Security & illegal immigration policy clearly indicates our stance and expectation of our supply base in the attainment in compliance to section 33 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (including any subsequent amendments).
Our aim is to continually communicate and train our team. ‘Stronger Together’ has again been invaluable in supplying onsite inhouse training to significant number of our supervisory team. The uptake of the content continues to vary in depth, but on the whole it was suggested to have given a valuable insight to all that attended. Most if not all acknowledged the value of gaining knowledge in how better to correctly identify and communicate evidence of discrimination, harassment, or any similar types of breach of ethics.
It continues to be standard practice for Staples colleagues to attend seminars / conferences run by retailers (in collaboration with mutli-stakeholders, the GLAA (Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority), the ALP (Association of labour providers).
Our induction training scheme offers guidance, through communicated learnings, as well as systems of work and communication of policy and procedures requirements, all of which require employee acceptance to comply.
Collaboration to attain our Targets
Only by utilising a combined approach, can industry stamp out Modern day slavery. Staples Vegetables Board of Directors, Management team, farming and factory employees are fully supportive of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and will ensure they maintain this approach to achieve our target of 100% compliance.