This section outlines our policies and their relevance to tackling modern slavery.
Our Constitution describes the procedures which are followed to ensure that the Council acts in a way which is efficient, transparent, and accountable to local people. The Constitution is divided into several articles, which set out the basic rules governing the Council’s business. The “Contract Standing Orders” is included in the Council’s constitution and sets out how the Council authorises and manages spending and contracts with other organisations. This is relevant to tackling modern slavery as it requires consideration to be given to all tenders with respect to sustainability and social value issues.
The Council is committed to applying the highest standards of openness, honesty, integrity, and accountability through the services it provides. However, the Council recognises that there is always the risk that things can go wrong. Therefore, the Council is keen to encourage those working for the Council, its elected and co-opted members, and members of the community to express their concerns when they think that there may be something seriously wrong regarding the activities of the council. This gives the Council the opportunity to stop any unethical or unprofessional practices or wrongdoing within the organisation. Our Whistleblowing Policy sets out how concerns about serious wrongdoing by the Council can be raised and how the Council will respond to these. This policy is important for individuals wanting to raise concerns about modern slavery and/or related issues.
Sustainability and Social Value
Our Sustainable Procurement Policy sets how sustainability will be embedded into every procurement process or purchasing decision. Relatedly, our Social Value Framework aims to maximise the social, economic, and environmental benefit of all public investments. Our framework is underpinned by a set of guiding principles which organisations from all sectors are encouraged to adopt. Our principles such a being inclusive in the way we work, supporting people in securing work and paying the Living Wage, and ensuring ethical standards of purchasing and delivering services is relevant to the anti-slavery agenda as they promote good work and procurement practices beyond the cost of a service.
Employee Code of Conduct
This Code sets out the responsibilities and rights of employees when carrying out their duties. This includes encouraging employees to raise concerns confidentially of malpractice and ensuring dignity and respect in in their roles. The Code applies to employees of Brighton & Hove City Council, whether employed on a permanent, temporary, or casual basis. This Code of Conduct and the council’s Behaviour Framework underpin these six organisational values by setting out in more detail the standard of behaviour expected of you as an officer whilst you are carrying out your duties. This is relevant to the anti-slavery agenda as the Code expects employees to behave ethically and maintain high standards of personal conduct and be aware of and act in accordance with the Council’s values and behaviours.
Health and Safety
The Council has various policies which aim to promote high standards and good practices in relation to health, safety, and welfare. This includes the Health and Safety Policy and Health and Safety Management Standard which sets out health and safety arrangements and responsibilities for all staff. These procedures are important to tackling modern slavery as victims of forced labour and modern slavery may be at increased risk of work-related injuries due to inadequate protective equipment and health and safety measures, including appropriate training.
The Council’s Recruitment and Selection Policy provides a framework to ensure the Council has a fair, objective, consistent and transparent recruitment, and selection process that promotes good practice and supports a proactive approach to equality and diversity. This policy applies to all individuals employed by Brighton & Hove City Council. Our recruitment policies include undertaking pre-employment checks such as reviewing references, verifying qualifications, conducting Disclosure & Barring Service checks where appropriate to the post, and Right to Work in the UK checks.
The Council recognises that victims of modern slavery can be exploited in legitimate jobs with legal terms of employment but exploited by others unrelated to the Council. Therefore, the checks undertaken as part of our recruitment and selection process are important for identifying potential vulnerabilities and victimisation.
Grievance and Workplace Conflict
The Council is committed to providing a working environment where individuals are treated with fairness, dignity and respect and will take all employee complaints seriously. The Grievance Procedure sets out the process and stages of dealing with concerns raised by employees, as soon as reasonably possible. This includes the right of workers to be advised and/or represented by a Trade Union representative, where requested.
The Council also has a Dignity and Respect at Work Policy which aims promote a respectful and inclusive culture where everyone is treated with professionalism, dignity and respect and supporting a working environment and culture in which bullying and harassment, will not be tolerated.
Grievance mechanisms are important to tackle modern slavery as it involves an additional route by which employees can raise complaints or concerns. Additionally, as victims of modern slavery are likely to be subject to forms of intimidation and threats and degrading and humiliating conduct, the Dignity and Respect at Work Policy is particularly relevant to tackling modern slavery.
Equality and Inclusion
In addition to other Council policies such as those on recruitment and our Code of Conduct which includes equality and diversity within our organisation, the Council has an Equality and Inclusion Policy Statement and Strategy. This describes how we promote, facilitate, and deliver equality. The Council recognises that certain vulnerable, marginalised, and underrepresented groups are at a higher risk of poor labour and employment practices and therefore equality and diversity policies ensure that every member, manager, and employee have a duty to be aware of equality issues in their daily activities.
Our Policy to Support Employees experiencing Domestic Violence & Abuse (DVA), or Sexual Violence (SV) sets out the Council’s framework for supporting employees who have experienced or are experiencing DVA or SV and the steps the Council will take where it is alleged an employee has, or is, perpetrating this type of abuse. The policy covers elements of abuse such as controlling and coercive behaviour. While this policy focuses specifically on domestic abuse, it is important for tackling modern slavery as cases may share similar indicators of abuse.
The Council has adopted a policy of seeking mutually acceptable solutions to employee relations problems by discussion and agreement and recognises that effective collective bargaining, negotiation, consultation, and communication can be best achieved at a local level between union representatives, union members and management. The Council has a Trade Union Facilities Agreement with recognised trade unions representing our employees. This agreement ensures that facilities such as paid time off are available to ensure that union representatives can carry out their duties.
The Council recognises that trade union representation in the workplace can help reduce the risk of modern slavery by representing the interest of workers, ensuring fair working practices, supporting workers in negotiating their terms and conditions, and the resolving of grievances