To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps his Department is taking to (a) protect and (b) improve the rights of workers in the global information and communications technology sector through its (i) policies on and (ii) processes for procuring that technology throughout the government estate.
This Government is committed to ethical and responsible procurement in all sectors, including the technology sector. This includes working with suppliers to identify and avoid the risk of modern slavery in Government Department’s supply chains, as part of wider Government action to tackle compliance with the Modern Slavery Act.
The Government is taking forward initiatives to tackle modern slavery in supply chains. In September 2019 we published new guidance to help Government departments identify and avoid the risk of modern slavery in their supply chains during procurement processes. It also sets out how existing contracts can be risk assessed and suggests measures to manage the risks identified. The Guidance contains several tools to support this work, including:
A Modern Slavery Assessment Tool to support public bodies assess their own supply base for modern slavery risks.
In 2019, we also published the updated 'Supplier Code of Conduct v2', which sets the standards and behaviours expected from suppliers (and separately grant recipients), and reiterates the government's approach to working with suppliers.
Crown Commercial Service’s Standard Contract includes a Schedule which sets out the behaviours expected of all government suppliers, including those in the ICT industry. The schedule covers several areas of worker's rights, including equality and accessibility, security of income, working hours and modern slavery.
Additionally, the Crown Commercial Service has partnered with Electronics Watch, a multi-stakeholder initiative, to improve conditions for workers at factory level in government ICT hardware supply chains. Electronics Watch’s work has led to workers in government supply chains being reimbursed for recruitment fees they paid. Government is also piloting a programme to improve responsible recruitment in parts of our health sector supply chains in South East Asia.