BRE has launched an online version of the Ethical Labour Sourcing Standard (ELS) to help companies understand their responsibilities and actions relating to the ethical sourcing of labour.
BRE which conducts research into buildings released the ELS in February 2017. It was developed to support businesses to understand the profile of their social/ethical governance, including their human rights challenges. The ELS provides a framework for verifying ethical labour sourcing, and a route for companies working across all sectors and geographies to verify their systems and processes.
Dr Shamir Ghumra, Director of Sustainable Products at BRE, says in today’s globalised market place, where there are 45.8million people across 167 countries in modern slavery, human rights due diligence and ethical approaches to organisational and supply chain management are morally and strategically significant. The online launch of the Ethical Labour Sourcing Standard (ELS) provides a way for companies to self-assess their on-going commitment to the principles of ethical labour sourcing and profile their corporate governance.
Hotels are particularly at risk from forced labour issues either during construction, within outsourced roles like housekeeping or elsewhere within the supply chain. The online ELS allows them to check they are conforming to simple rules that ensure ethical labour sourcing.
The easy-to-use online ELS platform consists of actions to be completed to demonstrate the adoption of the principles of ethical labour sourcing. These actions are established from an assessment against 12 issues areas: Organisation structure; Management policies; Management systems; Assurance, compliance and auditing; Human Resources; Immigration; Procurement; Supply chain management; Bribery & corruption; Learning & development ; Forums; Reporting.
Companies can then seek formal verification of compliance involving site visits if they choose to. However the online ELS also allows them to measure progress. Companies can revisit, re-evaluate and measure online how they are performing against their own objectives, needs and identified risks in the 12 issue areas.
Legislation, such as the UK Modern Slavery Act (2015), has shone a light on the need for businesses to understand their human rights risks and responsibilities in their direct business operations and, significantly, their global supply chains. The Global Slavery Index has estimated there are 45.8million people across 167 countries in modern slavery. The UK Government has estimated there are around 13,000 people in modern slavery in Britain today – although it’s likely there are many more entrapped in forced labour practices.
Because of the risk to hotels, Human Rights was one of the four ITP Goals for 2030, focused on forced labour issues and representing a call to action to the hotel industry to work together to raise awareness and reduce risks. The BRE Environmental and Sustainability Standard provides a framework for the verification of Ethical Labour Sourcing (BES 6002) and gives a route to company level verification. The online standard can be accessed at: www.elsonline.co.uk 
A wealth of resources for hotels seeking to understand and tackle human rights issues can be downloaded for free from the ITP website .