Premier Foods is committed to tackling all forms of hidden labour exploitation, including slavery and human trafficking. We have policies and procedures in place to help identify and eradicate these practices within our business and to reduce and eliminate risks in our supply chain. In addition, we are a business partner of ‘Stronger Together’, a multi-stakeholder initiative of colleagues, labour providers, workers and their representatives focused on addressing modern day slavery and third party exploitation.
Premier Foods permanently employs nearly 4,000 people in the UK across 13 different locations. We also engage temporary labour at sites, both directly and via labour agencies to cover seasonal production peaks, and we outsource other services, such as cleaning and catering, to third party providers.
One of our core values is that we respect and encourage each other, and all Premier Foods colleagues are required to abide by our Code of Conduct, which stipulates that people should be fairly treated. In addition, we have developed a specific policy on preventing hidden labour exploitation, which specifies the measures we take to ensure hidden worker exploitation does not take place at any of our sites.
As part of our policy, our Human Resources teams receive specific training on labour exploitation and all colleagues are provided with information on the subject. New joiners watch a training video as part of their induction, and colleagues and agency workers are positively encouraged to report hidden cases of labour exploitation, including via a confidential whistle blowing helpline, all of which will be investigated. As part of our support for the Stronger Together initiative, we have audited all of our manufacturing sites to support compliance with our policy, and we intend to continue to audit them bi-annually to maintain focus on this important issue. We also make sure that all of our recruitment and outsourcing partners are aware of and agree to the principles of our policy and we expect them to communicate to us the steps they take in their own organisations to prevent hidden labour exploitation.
Given the wide range of products we produce, we have a substantial number of ingredient, packaging and services suppliers. While we buy mostly from UK based suppliers, we do source some items from other countries around the world. To mitigate the risk of labour exploitation throughout our supply chain, we have established an Ethical Trading Policy, which has been based around internationally recognised code of labour practices. This sets minimum requirements covering the following areas 1) employment is freely chosen; 2) freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are respected; 3) working conditions are safe and hygienic; 4) child labour shall not be used; 5) living wages are paid; 6) working hours are not excessive; 7) no discrimination is practised; 8) regular employment is provided; and 9) no harsh or inhumane treatment is allowed (see full policy for more detail).
Premier Foods is a member of Sedex (the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange), a not-for-profit membership organisation dedicated to driving improvements in responsible and ethical business practices in global supply chains, and we require all ingredients and packaging suppliers to become members as well to give visibility of their ethical performance and aide risk assessment of our supply base.
To ensure compliance with our policies, we maintain a risk-based approach to auditing that prioritises our highest risk suppliers for internal and third party Sedex social and ethical audits (SMETA). All of our routine food safety and compliance audits also have an ethical component, which addresses labour exploitation. If a concern is flagged, this will trigger a full SMETA audit.
Our policies and practices to address modern day slavery and labour exploitation are overseen by a cross-functional Ethical Working Group, sponsored by a member of our Executive Leadership team. This group reports through to our Sustainability Steering Group chaired by our CEO. We monitor progress and compliance through agreed KPI’s on a quarterly basis.
Premier Foods remains confident that we have the right measures in place to identify, address and importantly, prevent incidences of labour exploitation, modern slavery and human trafficking. We will continue to work closely with our colleagues, contractors, suppliers and business partners to ensure these practices are eliminated from all aspects of our business operations and wider supply chain.
Signed by Gavin Darby, CEO, and approved by the Board of Directors on 12 May 2016
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