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United Kingdom

Code of Practice in Supply Chains (UK0087)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: United Kingdom – Third National Action Plan 2016-18

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Welsh Government

Support Institution(s): Public sector organisations in Wales Businesses and third sector organisations in Wales

Policy Areas

Labor, Open Contracting and Procurement, Subnational

IRM Review

IRM Report: United Kingdom End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, United Kingdom Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Not Relevant

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Commitment text: Welsh Government will develop a code for ethical supply chain behaviour,
that will ensure awareness and understanding of actions to mitigate against ethical supply chain
issues.
Objective: To achieve high levels of sign-up to 12 commitments aimed at promoting the legal
and ethical treatment of workers.
Status quo: Unethical and illegal treatment of workers in public sector supply chains.
Ambition: One ambition of this piece of work is to raise awareness of the prevalence of modern
slavery in our supply chains and take actions to address areas of high risk.
Another ambition is to raise and level the playing field in Wales so that suppliers that wish to
employ workers ethically are not disadvantaged in bidding for public contracts.
A third ambition is to encourage the more widespread adoption of the Living Wage Foundation’s
Living Wage (based on the costs of living).
Milestones:
1. First draft completed and introduced at Procurex
2. Task and Finish Group established and first meeting set-up
3. Engagement with business and third sector
4. Ethical supply chain code launch
5. Sign-up

IRM End of Term Status Summary

7. Code of Practice for Ethical Employment in Supply Chains (Wales)

Commitment text:Welsh Government will develop a code for ethical supply chain behaviour, that will ensure awareness and understanding of actions to mitigate against ethical supply chain issues.

Objective:To achieve high levels of sign-up to 12 commitments aimed at promoting the legal and ethical treatment of workers.

Status quo:Unethical and illegal treatment of workers in public sector supply chains.

Ambition:One ambition of this piece of work is to raise awareness of the prevalence of modern slavery in our supply chains and take actions to address areas of high risk.

Another ambition is to raise and level the playing field in Wales so that suppliers that wish to employ workers ethically are not disadvantaged in bidding for public contracts.

A third ambition is to encourage the more widespread adoption of the Living Wage Foundation's Living Wage (based on the costs of living).

Milestones:

1. First draft completed and introduced at Procurex

2. Task and Finish Group established and first meeting set-up

3. Engagement with business and third sector

4. Ethical supply chain code launch

5. Sign-up

Responsible institution: Welsh government

Supporting institutions: Public sector organisations in Wales Businesses and third sector organisations in Wales

Start date: March 2016

End date: Early 2017

Commitment Aim:

The Welsh Government committed to a code for ethical supply chains based on 12 separate parts, including a Code of Practice, guidance to help staff spot potential abuse and questions to be asked in the tender process. The government would publish and champion the new code, with organisations in Wales being asked to sign up. In particular, ‘all organisations that receive funding from Welsh Government, either directly or via grants or contracts'.[Note 221: Welsh Government, ‘Code of practice: Ethical employment in supply chains', http://gov.wales/topics/improvingservices/bettervfm/code-of-practice/?lang=en ]

The code will help prevent aspects of poor treatment relating to ‘terms and conditions of employment, including zero hours contracts, Umbrella Schemes and False Self-Employment'.[Note 222: Welsh Government, ‘Code of Practice for Ethical Employment launched', http://gov.wales/newsroom/finance1/2017/58948814/?lang=en ] While the commitment addresses an important issue, as written the activities lacked a public-facing element. Additionally, it was unclear if the commitment would release information on supply chains to the public or allow broader public scrutiny of the information or the processes.

If fully implemented with sufficient co-operation and sign-ups, the commitment could have a potentially transformative impact. It could create a set of stronger ethical guidelines for a range of businesses and organisations.

Status

Midterm: Substantial

Milestones 1 through 4 were all on track and completed within the timeframe of the action plan.[Note 223: Interview with Rhiannon Caunt, Welsh Government, 6 September 2017. ] The code was launched at the Procurex event in October 2016.[Note 224: Public Spend Forum Europe, ‘Ethical Employment In Supply Chains – Wales Takes The Lead', http://publicspendforumeurope.com/2016/10/24/ethical-employment-in-supply-chains-wales-takes-the-lead/ ] It was then developed with the support of the Workforce Partnership Council and social partners including Unions and released on 29 March 2017 in line with the timetable.[Note 225: Welsh Government, ‘Code of Practice for Ethical Employment launched', http://gov.wales/newsroom/finance1/2017/58948814/?lang=en] So far, according to the Welsh Government's self-assessment, all universities and police forces have signed up and ‘one local authority, two housing associations and over 25 businesses and third sector organisations'.[Note 226: Welsh Government (2017), UK Open Government, National Action Plan Welsh Government Mid-Term Self-Assessment Report (draft document accessed by author November 2017)]

End of term: Complete

The commitment is complete given the commitment aimed to have sign-ups from different sectors without a particular target. The self-assessment of December 2017 spoke of ongoing activity – to raise awareness of the Code and increase sign-up'.[Note 227: Welsh Government (2017), National Action Plan Welsh Government Mid-Term Self-Assessment Report]

An FOI request to the Welsh government in April 2018 found progress from the midterm report.[Note 228: Response to this FOI request asking for details of sign-ups, whatdotheyknow.com (2018), and ‘Code of Practice for ethical supply chains', https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/code_of_practice_for_ethical_emp_3, and background data https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/477276/response/1155260/attach/html/4/ATISN%2012235%202018%2005%2009%20FOI%20Information%20Requested.pdf.html] The government reported that 83 organisations have signed up. This included nine local councils and a number of Welsh police forces (including Caerphilly, Cardiff, Ceredigion, Anglesey, Pembrokeshire, Rhonda Cwm Taff, Swansea, Powys and Wrexham). In total, 22 public bodies and 39 private sector organisations had signed up.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Marginal

The commitment was aimed at preventing unethical and illegal treatment in supply chains and employment. Although it did not fit any OGP values specifically, the work on this commitment created a marginal change in access to information by making public the commitment of a growing range of bodies (both government and private) to ethical supply chain. These commitments were not previously public information. It also affected behaviour and activism around issues of contracts and employment rights. As one example, a member of the Trade Union UNISON spoke of how the Code had been used in campaigns against zero-hours contracts.[Note 229: ITV News (2018), ‘Reported cases of modern day slavery doubles in a year', 3 August 2018, http://www.itv.com/news/wales/2018-08-23/56-rise-in-reported-cases-of-modern-day-slavery/; BBC (2018), Zero-hours employers should not get Welsh Government aid, AMs say,

23 May 2018, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-44224124 ]

Carried Forward?

This commitment is not being carried forward.


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