Modern Slavery Statement
Staples are committed to driving out evidence of modern-day slavery and or human trafficking from the industry and will ensure that industry leading targets are set, achieved and maintained.
2020 has seen the need for significant change, throughout both the business community and at home. COVID 19 has introduced the need for change, for development and for review of practices to maintain continuity of work, of employment and hopefully offer as safe way of living, following the devastating effects that COVID 19 has had on modern society.
Unfortunately, as with any negative effect on society, those whom wish to profit on those less fortunate, will continue to operate, unless we all stand together and stand against such as Modern-day Slavery.
As an ever-developing business, growing, packing, processing, and despatching both conventionally and Organically grown vegetables to the 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 COVID 19 has had. 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 upwards of 1500 staff, Staples plans to eliminate the need 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 Ethics Policy of 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 attendance at a number of 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).
The learning taken during 2019 led the team to invite ‘Stronger Together’ to site to give inhouse training to our wider supervisory team. Feedback varied, dependant on previous personal knowledge and or experiences, but on the whole it was suggested to have given a valuable insight to most, into Modern Slavery and ways to aid in correctly identifying and communicating evidence of discrimination, harassment, or any similar types of breach of ethics.
The aim was to look to roll out to other members of the team, although COVID 19 unfortunately placed a stop to this during 2020. Similarly, what has now become standard for Staples colleagues to attend at other similar seminars / conferences run by retailers (in collaboration with mutli-stakeholders, the GLAA (Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority), the ALP (Association of labour providers), were also placed on hold. Online access to seminars are now rolling out and Staples will plan to maintain the same level of attendance as if physically attended.
Our induction training scheme offers guidance, through communicated learnings, as well as systems of work and training out our policies and procedures all of which require employee acceptance to comply with our requirements.
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.
This statement as with all company Policies are fully supported by the Board in its pursuit to ensure compliance with all legislative requirements. This policy is further supported by specific policies and procedures. All policies inclusive shall be reviewed following legislative changes or as required by the document control procedure.