At Reckitt, operating in a way that respects the human rights of people across our value chain is fundamental to our purpose.
Today, we published our Modern Slavery Act Statement for 2020. It sets out the challenges in our value chain and the progress we’re making in tackling these.
Among the issues we have taken action on is the practice of charging migrant workers recruitment fees that often leave them in debt, a discriminatory and unethical practice we found at a supplier in Malaysia in 2018.
Through collaboration with another multinational company that uses the same supplier, we developed and piloted a scalable approach to end the common practice of charging recruitment fees, developing responsible recruitment practices and paying back recruitment fees to existing workers lifting them out of debt.
In 2020, we collectively negotiated the repayment of $800,000 of recruitment fees to workers. We’re now looking to apply the same approach to other suppliers in Malaysia and the Middle East to scale the positive impact we have had.
Another widespread issue affecting millions of migrant workers in the Middle East is passport retention by employers.
We’ve been working with some of our strategic suppliers to ensure employees have free access to their passports. This has led to one of our suppliers returning the passports of 432 workers across their sites.
Where workers ask their employer to hold their passport for safekeeping, we insist there’s written consent, with a clearly documented and understood process for workers to ask for their passports freely and without any fear of redress.
As we continue to strengthen our work on these and other challenges in the year ahead, these examples demonstrate our proactive efforts to identify and respond to any issues in our value chain is making a difference in improving lives and enabling a fairer society.
Our work to prevent modern slavery is important in enabling that fairer society. Modern slavery is absolutely contrary to who we are, to our purpose and to the compass that guides us. We are making progress amidst global and systemic challenges.