Role of businesses in preventing modern slavery

In order to act on modern slavery, businesses need to know where the harm is occurring.

Property and construction business activities can both directly and indirectly impact the lives of many people, especially those hidden deep within complex supply chains. Property and construction projects will often involve multiple tiers of management, operations, and procurement processes, sometimes stretching over many years. As a result, collaboration around key topics, such as grievance mechanisms and remediation, is more important than ever. 

The global community of governments, investors and civil society increasingly expect businesses to address and prevent human rights related harm, including modern slavery. Effective human rights grievance mechanisms are a critical component of a company’s response to modern slavery. 

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About the guide

KPMG Australia, in collaboration with the Property Council of Australia, has developed a practical guide for businesses to better understand and address modern slavery in the property and construction sector, which:

  • explores the important role of businesses, with a focus in property and construction, in using human rights grievance mechanisms to listen and respond to the human rights grievances of rights-holders, including modern slavery
  • prioritises the voice of the worker through state-of-the-art research about human rights grievance mechanisms and in-depth research interviews with property and construction businesses and their stakeholders throughout the grievance process
  • offers real-world case studies and practical next steps for all businesses to begin considering potential human rights grievance mechanisms or reviewing existing mechanisms.

What makes an effective human rights grievance mechanism for modern slavery?

The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) have set out eight criteria that should be applied when designing, implementing and reviewing effective human rights grievance mechanisms for your workplace.

  1. Legitimate

    Users trust the grievance mechanism, and it is accountable for the fair conduct of the grievance processes.

  2. Accessible

    Users know about the grievance mechanism, and can access the adequate assistance if they face any barriers to access.

  3. Predictable

    The grievance mechanism follows a clear and known procedure with an indicative timeframe for each stage and clarity on the types of processes and outcome available.

  4. Equitable

    Users have reasonable access to information, advice and expertise necessary to enage in a process that is fair, informed and respectful.

  5. Transparent

    Relevant stakeholders are informed about the grievance process and are provided with sufficient information about the grievance mechanism's performance.

  6. Rights compatible

    The outcomes and remedies of the grievance mechanism accord with internationally recognised human rights.

  7. Source of continuous learning

    The grievance mechanism draws on relevant measures to identify lessons for improving the mechanism and preventing future grievances and harms.

  8. Based on dialogue and engagement

    Relevant stakeholders are consulted in the design, implementation and review of grievance mechanisms, and the means to address and resolve grievances.

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