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We believe everyone deserves to be treated equally and with dignity. Freedom from slavery is a fundamental human right, and we have a responsibility to uphold that principle throughout our operations and supply chains.
A business of our size and scope requires multiple partners to operate our building portfolio nationwide, including cleaning, security and facilities management staff. Our development supply chain too comprises construction companies and their suppliers. We have an ongoing responsibility under the Australian Modern Slavery Act 2018 and our own ethical principles to ensure that all of these relationships uphold the highest standards of human rights.
Reporting and decisive actions are key to protecting the rights of vulnerable staff.
This year, it came to our attention, through our Whistleblower hotline, that contractors at one of our suppliers had not received their superannuation payments. We immediately notified the company, and they started an internal investigation. It turned out the superannuation payments for four staff had inadvertently not been set up when they joined the company.
This whole situation was raised, investigated and resolved in partnership with our supplier within two weeks using our grievance and remediation processes. The payments were activated and an audit identified that no payments had been missed. We also asked for all employment documents to be checked to ensure all statutory requirements were being followed, which our supplier confirmed.
One of the reasons why we were able to do this so rapidly is that we very much see our suppliers as partners in our business. We expect them to work to agreed standards, but we also work with them to resolve matters together because we recognise that is in the best interests of all parties. Our goal is to help them grow with us – and that spirit of co-operation and mutual success comes to the fore when problems arise.
This particular oversight illustrates how quickly a situation can develop that could compromise the earnings of vulnerable people, and why reporting and decisive actions are key to protecting the rights of vulnerable staff.
As a signatory to the UN Global Compact, our business is committed to upholding universal principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Two of our employees co-chair the Property Council of Australia’s Modern Slavery Working Group and all our new suppliers and contractors are required to sign our Supplier Code of Conduct. Charter Hall is also an adoptee of the Cleaning Accountability Framework (CAF), which addresses potential modern slavery issues in the cleaning industry.