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Shoosmiths publishes its third annual slavery and human trafficking statement

Shoosmiths has recently published its third annual statement setting out steps it has taken to identify slavery and trafficking.

Shoosmiths is committed to playing its part to help effect change through an improved understanding of its operations, by raising stakeholder awareness and by identifying opportunities for collaboration and shared best practice. The statement details our approach including within our operations and supply chain.

Full details about our approach can be viewed on the landing pages of our Shoosmiths and Access Legal Solicitors websites but a few comments of note include:

As at September 2018 156 suppliers have signed up to our supplier code of conduct and we have received 72 supplier responses to our 2018 slavery and trafficking supplier survey.

Goods and services sourced outside the UK include US datasite services; paper bags from Bulgaria; and power banks, USBs, folders, travel adaptors, webcam covers, vacuum bottles and stress balls from China.

Divisions and directorates have not identified any internal business procedures that could make demands of suppliers or contractors that might lead them to violate human rights and we will keep this under review.

Shoosmiths has not been informed of any incidents of slavery or trafficking during the year but will investigate any allegations should they arise and take appropriate action accordingly.

Internal engagement

  • E learning training is made available to nominated individuals within each division and business directorate overseeing compliance with our slavery and human trafficking requirements. The e learning training covers four modules providing an introduction to modern slavery, what are the signs, action to take and an assessment of understanding. As at August 2018 66 of employees (87%) have completed the training.

We raise awareness amongst our staff about slavery and human trafficking which this year has included:

  • Information on our intranet which describes the scale of the problem, what Shoosmiths is doing and ways in which staff can help.
  • Inclusion in our quarterly induction programme for new joiners.
  • Following the launch by BT/Unseen of the Unseen App we have added the App to all new company iPhones and iPads ordered from mid-August 2018 onwards. The App helps to make it easier to report concerns to the free confidential helpline 08000 121 700, operated by Unseen 24 hours a day 365 days a year. The helpline can be used by victims, members of the public and businesses to get help, report a suspicion or seek advice. The helpline website also provides resources and a directories of services and helpline providers.
  • An update on progress and plans to our national Employee Forum in September 2018.
  • In the run up to Anti-Slavery Day 18 October 2018 an intranet feature about the scale and challenges posed by slavery and trafficking included ways colleagues can get involved to raise awareness and support the work of organisations tackling the problem.
  • Firm wide briefings and articles on our external facing CR blog SHOUTback and inclusion in our annual CR Report and UN Global Compact Communication on Progress.

External engagement

In addition to our involvement with the United Nations Global Compact activities during the last twelve months have included:

  • Modern Slavery Act advice and training provided to clients by our regulatory, employment and commercial teams including board briefings, compliance checklists, amending and drafting contracts to include anti-slavery clauses, assisting with business deals clients are undertaking – considering if other parties involved are affected by the legislation, inserting anti-slavery clauses in agreements and s.54 transparency statements.
  • Our employment/immigration team also advise on illegal working policies and procedures, carrying out prevention of illegal working audits and provides training for staff undertaking checks on illegal working.
  • To find out more about the advice we provide click here. To find out more about our e-learning training click here.
  • In June 2018 we organised a workshop with the Law Society and the University of Nottingham. Law firms and the third sector explored challenges that victims and survivors of modern slavery face accessing legal justice and therefore opportunities for possible remedies.
  • In October 2018 we became a partner of the TISCreport which it describes as the largest Open Data register committed to ending Modern Slavery and supply chain abuses. The £1,500 subscription is split equally between the TISCreport register and the UK Modern Slavery helpline.
  • Briefing the pro bono clinics we operate in Reading and Northampton and liaising with LawWorks to find ways of raising awareness including the potential for non-specialist legal advisers to help clients complete applications for Exceptional Case Funding.

Priorities for 2018/2019

  • Undertake a third party modern slavery threat assessment to identify opportunities for improvement;
  • Increase understanding of potential risk areas perceived by our priority suppliers within their supply chains;
  • Explore opportunities for collaboration within the business sector and with third sector organisations involved in mitigating and preventing slavery and trafficking within the UK; and
  • Continue to raise awareness amongst stakeholders.

In conclusion, Shoosmiths is committed to better understanding its supply chains and collaborating with stakeholders who wish to improve transparency and address incidents of slavery or human trafficking. This applies not just to our own practices but also to the identification of opportunities in wider society where we might be able to make a difference.

Disclaimer

This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.

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