Ashfords is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Ashfords is committed to complying with the SRA Standards and Regulations 2019. In particular, for this policy, we recognise the importance of Principle 1 (acting in a way that upholds the constitutional principle of the rule of law, and the proper administration of justice), Principle 2 (acting in a way that upholds public trust and confidence in the solicitors’ profession and in legal service provided by authorised persons), Principle 4 (acting with honesty), and Principle 5 (acting with integrity). We also ensure that we comply with Rule 1.2 and Rule 7.1 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2019 for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs, and that the Firm complies with Rule 1.2, Rule 2.1 and Rule 3.1 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2019 for Firms.
Ashfords does not tolerate the use of modern slavery or human trafficking anywhere within our organisation or in any of our supply chains.
Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking
Modern slavery is a crime resulting in despicable abuse of human rights. The Modern Slavery Act (MSA) 2015 consolidates slavery and trafficking offenses. It covers four activities:
- Slavery – exercising powers of ownership over a person.
- Servitude – where the obligation to provide services is imposed by the use of coercion.
- Forced or compulsory labour – where work or services are exacted from a person under the menace of any penalty and for which the person has not offered themselves voluntarily.
- Human trafficking – arranging or facilitating the travel of another person with a view to their exploitation.
The MSA 2015 ensures that offences are subject to the toughest asset recovery regime under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The National Crime Agency, the police and other law enforcement agencies have the power to bring to justice those engaged in human trafficking and slavery. Modern slavery is a complex and multi-faceted crime and tackling it requires all partners and staff to play a part. Protecting our workforce and reputation is vital. The MSA 2015 highlights the important need for businesses, and therefore the firm, to play a part in tackling slavery.
Identifying Slavery or Human Trafficking
There is no typical victim of slavery or human trafficking and some victims do not understand that they have been exploited and are entitled to help and support. The following list of indicators, which is not exhaustive, could trigger suspicions that someone may be a slavery or trafficking victim:
- The person may not be in possession of their own passport, identification or travel documents;
- The person allowing others to speak for them even when spoken to directly;
- The person is withdrawn or appears frightened;
- The person does not seem to be able to freely contact friends or family;
- The person has limited social interaction or contact with people outside their immediate environment.
A person may display a number of the indicators as set out above but they may not necessarily be a victim of slavery or trafficking.
Responsibilities and Commitments
All employees and members of Ashfords have a responsibility to ensure all colleagues and Business Partners are safeguarded, treated fairly and with dignity.
- Maintain clear policies and procedures preventing exploitation and human trafficking, protecting our colleagues, Business Partners and our reputation;
- Be clear about our recruitment;
- Check our supply chains;
- Make appropriate checks on all employees, recruitment agencies, suppliers etc;
- Have an open and transparent grievance procedure in place for all staff;
- Make a clear, annual statement which will:
- Show a summary of the steps we have taken during the financial year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any part of the business or our supply chains.
- Be published within 6 months of the end of each financial year.
- Be built on each year and therefore show improvements can be and have been made.
Supervisors and line managers will:
- Listen and be approachable to colleagues;
- Respond appropriately if they are told something that might indicate a colleague is in an exploitive situation;
- Remain alert to indicators of slavery;
- Raise awareness by discussing issues and providing training;
- Use their experience and professional judgement to gauge situations.
- Follow the reporting procedure (see Reporting below) if there is any suspicion of a colleague or someone in our supply chain being controlled or forced by someone else to work or provide services;
- Follow the reporting procedure (see Reporting below) if a colleague tells them something that may indicate they are or someone else is being exploited or ill-treated.
The principal areas of risk we face, related to slavery and human trafficking, include, but are not limited to, the following Business Partners:
- Supply chains
- Outsourced activities
- Cleaning and catering supplies
- Corporate hospitality
- Recruitment through agencies
- General recruitment
- Breaches of money laundering and counter terrorist financing legislation
We need to pay particularly close attention to these Business Partners. The firm will manage these risk through the steps outlined in this policy, the Anti-Slavery: Procedure and the Anti-Bribery: Controls.
Supply chains will be thoroughly checked to ensure the potential for slavery and human trafficking is significantly reduced. This should be done by ensuring each step of the supply process is accounted for. We should expect to know who is providing goods and services to us and we will have mechanisms and processes in place to check, including:
- Risk assessing suppliers; and
- Auditing suppliers
Companies with which we do business will be informed that Ashfords will not accept any form of exploitation.
Risk assessments will include a) identifying suppliers by total spend/goods or services/location, b) Employment, c) Sector and d) Relationship.
Recruitment using Agencies
Ashfords will only use agreed and specified reputable recruitment agencies. To ensure the potential for slavery and human trafficking is reduced as much as possible, we will thoroughly check recruitment agencies before adding them to our list of approved agencies. This includes:
- Conducting background checks
- Investigating reputation
- Ensuring the staff an agency provides have the appropriate paperwork e.g. work visas
- Regularly reviewing the list of agents
Ashfords ensures that all staff have a written contract of employment and that they have not had to pay any direct or indirect fees to obtain work. We will ensure that all staff are legally able to work in the UK and we will check the names and addresses of our staff (a number of people listed at the same address may indicate high shared occupancy which is often related with those being exploited). We will provide all new recruits with information on their statutory rights, including sick pay, holiday pay and any other benefits they may be entitled to.
If, through the recruitment process, there is suspicion that someone is being exploited, the HR department will report their suspicions to Risk & Compliance.
Please see the Anti-Slavery: Procedure for details on how to report concerns.
Ashfords will provide training to those staff members who are involved in managing recruitment and our supply chains.
Ashfords will monitor our procedures and review this Anti-Slavery: Policy at least annually on publication of the annual statement. We will provide information and training, if necessary, on any changes which are made.
This policy applies to all employees and members, locums and consultants of Ashfords and covers both our internal operations and our engagement with third parties including, but not limited to, suppliers.
“MSA” means Modern Slavery Act.
“HOLP” means Head of Legal Practice.
“Business Partners” means suppliers and any other third parties we engage as a business.
A “supplier” is any individual or company which provides goods or services.