Health and Wellbeing

How Banks can be at the Forefront of Tackling Modern Slavery?

We look at the different ways banking providers can prevent modern slavery via their business practices

A man handing a person cash with blurred background. Representing Cash in Hand payments - a warning sign of modern slavery.

In many ways, modern slavery is something of an invisible crime. The victims are often hiding in plain sight and are too afraid, or lack the means to report what is happening to them. The perpetrators too can go largely undetected as they can initially come across as legitimate business owners. 

This makes detecting incidents of slavery and forced labour very difficult but there are other ways this practice can be stopped. Banks can play a leading role in the fight against slavery in a number of different ways, but first, it’s important to understand what Modern Slavery is. 

What is Modern Slavery?

Modern slavery can be defined as any form of servitude or forced labour. In many cases, it usually involves a form of human trafficking where people are tricked into travelling to the UK with the promise of work, only to be exploited. 

These people are usually forced to live in cramped, overcrowded accommodation and work for very low wages, none of which they actually see themselves. Due to the fact that many of threatened with violence and have limited English, they find it almost impossible to escape their situation and report what is happening.

woman looking through metal fence

What Role can Banks Play in Combating Modern Slavery?

There are a number of ways in which banks can help blow the whistle on compulsory labour practices.

Be Rigorous in Who They Offer Their Banking Services to

Banks need to be thorough in looking into people who are seeking to access their products, particularly where lending is involved. Legitimate business owners will expect a certain level of scrutiny when they are taking out business loans.

It is up to banks and financial services to carry out the necessary risk assessment when deciding which business customers to lend to and to ensure that the money is not going to fund human trafficking and slavery practices.

This means scrutinising business ventures in which people are seeking capital investment both in the UK and in other countries. They should also be vigilant when it comes to funds entering into the banking system and many criminals will seek to legitimise their practices by funnelling money through bank accounts.

Offer Banking Products to Survivors of Modern Slavery

For banks, the focus doesn’t just have to be those behind the practice of forced labour, they can also help with the victims. Many of them will be migrant workers, and some may not have the requisite paperwork or identification documents with which to set up a bank account of their own.

Banks can help by giving them access to so-called survivor accounts if and when they have been freed from the shackles of servitude.

At Suits Me, one of the ways we mitigate risks is by giving your works their own financial independence by providing them with a personal e-money account. We don’t perform credit checks or need proof of address for any of our referred account holders, which means Suits Me can provide banking services to the most vulnerable workers who, in many cases, have never had full financial security or don’t usually reside in the UK.  

Educate Staff About the Impact of Modern Slavery

By training and educating their staff about modern slavery practices, banks can be proactive in combating the practice. An educated staff is vital in spotting questionable practices and payments and bringing them to the attention of the relevant people.

Most bank staff will receive some form of fraud and crime prevention training and it is here where issues around modern slavery should be raised. 

👉 Check out our Modern Slavery Resource Hub to learn more about protecting your workers from the devastating impact of modern slavery within the UK. 

How Suits Me Prevent Modern Slavery

At Suits Me we’ve often noticed the links between financial exclusion – whereby people find themselves locked outside of the mainstream banking system – and the increased risk of worker abuse. We believe that by ensuring everyone has access to secure, modern banking we can help combat modern slavery in the UK.

If you’re hiring workers who come to you without their own banking account, Suits Me can open one, and provide you with their payroll details in minutes. Becoming a Suits Me partner is completely free and you’ll gain a unique log-in to the Suits Me employer portal where you can upload online account applications in bulk via CSV files or open individual ones as and when an employee is in need, and get their account details back in minutes to add to your payroll system. 

Referred workers get their own online banking account and debit card, in their name, with their own account number and sort code. Plus, they’ll gain access to all the banking features required to successfully manage their finances.

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