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Successful claim against employer for allowing " modern slavery "

View profile for Phil Cookson
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High Court claims brought by Lithuanian nationals for exploitation have succeeded against a Kent based chicken farming company. This is the first court ruling against a UK company for civil damages in relation to victims of trafficking and “modern slavery”.   The claims found against the company included a failure to pay the agricultural minimum wage*, failure to pay for time spent travelling between farms, unlawful withholding of wages and a failure to provide facilities to wash, rest, eat and drink.

As the defendant company was working in a supply chain which produced premium free range eggs for household brands including McDonald’s, Tesco, Asda, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s, the case comes as a timely reminder to food businesses, following the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act 2015**, to ensure they take steps to eradicate all forms of modern slavery from supply chains they are involved in

*The Agricultural Wages Board was abolished in 2013 and with it, the minimum wage for agricultural workers was largely removed.  Agricultural employers should seek advice if they are unsure of the minimum rate of pay they should be applying.

<**The Modern Slavery Act 2015 brought in a requirement for businesses with an annual turnover of £36m to produce an annual statement of steps taken to eradicate modern slavery from their supply chains. The reporting requirement applies to relevant businesses from 31st March 2016.