This guidance is concerned with the procurement of products, services and works, where there may be concerns regarding human rights, working conditions and worker exploitation in the supply chain.
Its focus is on behaviour that is exploitative and concentrates on circumstances where human rights may be infringed.
It is part of a series of guides which support the sustainable procurement duty tools to help public sector organisations embed sustainability into their procurement processes.
Concerns regarding compliance with International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions or conditions where human rights may be infringed or conditions that could foster exploitation might include:
Risks may be more prevalent where there is a reliance on labour supply from recruitment agencies, migrant or seasonal workers, or temporary/agency staff.
Almost every industry is at risk, especially where there is a complex supply chain or lack of transparency in the supply chain, labour intensive production processes and low skill and low pay occupations. These can include:
The relevant National Outcomes and Indicators within the National Performance Framework focus our activity around ‘creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through sustainable and inclusive economic growth’.
This includes tackling supply chain condition and worker exploitation through relevant procurement processes.
The Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 (the Act) places a Sustainable Procurement Duty on a contracting authority before they buy anything, to think about how they can – though their procurements - improve the social, environmental and economic wellbeing in Scotland, with a particular focus on reducing inequality.
The Act also requires organisations to develop an organisation procurement strategy and report against its delivery at the end of each year.
This includes a requirement to include a statement of the authority’s general policy on the procurement of fairly and ethically traded goods and services and report on progress.
Contracting authorities are likely to have different social and ethical policy objectives, for example tackling labour standards or workforce exploitation within supply chains.
If a buyer intends to incorporate ethical policy objectives into their procurement they must ensure these are clearly articulated.
A clear policy objective in the commodity strategy aligned with their organisational procurement strategy will help demonstrate how the requirement is relevant to the subject matter of the contract.
The public procurement regulations allow a contracting authority to exclude companies from tendering for public contracts for not meeting certain conditions for example, breach of any obligations in the fields of environmental, social or labour law; and select the most suitable bidders based on technical ability and previous experience in relation to the subject matter of the contract.
This is done through the Single Procurement Document (SPD (Scotland)). The public procurement regulations also permit contracting authorities to ask for tenderers to be registered under a certain social label scheme - as long as the circumstances outlined later in specification development and award apply.
There is frequently a perception that procurement has a limited ability to apply control or influence throughout the supply chain beyond tier one suppliers.
The procurement process provides opportunities to map supply chains, incorporate relevant and proportionate criteria and specification requirements, and it is possible to work with suppliers to improve social and ethical performance.
Risks and opportunities for sustainable procurement can be identified by undertaking in depth market and supply chain analysis and for example, through the appropriate use of the sustainability test and prioritisation methodology, and the application of relevant and proportionate contract requirements.
Scottish Government Guidance on due diligence: human rights sets out how the Scottish Government, executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies should undertake appropriate due diligence on companies, including their human rights record, before entering into an investment relationship with them.
Further information on how to tackle risks/opportunities at various stages of the procurement process is provided in this guidance.