Learn about how we’re tackling modern slavery risks and helping to empower people to understand their fundamental human rights.
Combatting modern slavery is fundamental to ASOS’ approach to business. We’re committed to ensuring there are no forms of modern slavery and child labour in our supply chain or business operations. It is our responsibility to continually improve transparency; to seek out, identify and resolve problems and risks; to regularly review our business practices; and to collaborate with others to protect the rights of workers – particularly those who are most vulnerable to abuses such as modern slavery.
Since 2017 we have partnered with Anti-Slavery International (ASI), who act as our ‘critical friend’, providing advice, guidance and critique on ethical trade and tackling modern slavery. In 2022, we signed a new three-year agreement to support us in delivering the modern slavery goals related to our Be Transparent goal for Fashion with Integrity.
Alongside tackling modern slavery risks, we work hard to support people in the global fashion industry and help them understand their fundamental human rights. We split our approach to human rights into four categories: Freedom of Association, Gender, Living Wage, and Purchasing Practices.
Freedom of association
In October 2017 ASOS became the first e-commerce brand to sign a Global Framework Agreement with IndustriALL Global Union – the world’s largest sectorial trade union organisation representing 50 million workers. Negotiated on a global level, a GFA establishes the best standards of trade union rights, health and safety, and quality of work principles across a company’s global operations, regardless of whether those standards exist in an individual country.
By signing a GFA, ASOS strengthened its commitment to implementing international labour standards and to supporting freedom of association. We consider this key to addressing worker exploitation as it’s recognised as an enabler for the realisation of other labour rights.
As we implement our commitments with IndustriALL, we work with its affiliated trade unions globally to ensure that workers have access to remedy and are empowered, and to create an enabling environment for addressing all other fundamental rights.
To support our commitment, we require our suppliers to adopt a positive, open and collaborative approach towards trade unions. The ASOS Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining Policy reaffirms our commitment and recognition of Freedom of Association within our supply chain and sets out supplier requirements to ensure this right is protected.
As a signatory of the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles, we’re committed to advancing and empowering women in the workplace, in our supply chains and in the community. We’ve developed a training programme in partnership with a local women’s rights non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Turkey, covering gender equality, financial empowerment, discrimination, violence, and harassment. So far, workers in seven factories in Turkey have received training and an accompanying handbook that provides information on women’s rights and where further support can be accessed.
All workers in our supply chain are entitled to a wage earned during legal working hour limits that meets the basic needs of themselves and their families, including some discretionary income. We view our purchasing practices, freedom of association and gender equality workstreams as essential enablers to helping us achieve a living wage for our supply chain workers.
We recognise the barriers that exist for wage bargaining at factory level and transparency of payment to workers. To achieve a living wage, a joint approach is vital. All relevant stakeholders must work together and assume their respective responsibilities to push forward this agenda. This includes brands, retailers, suppliers, manufacturers, business associations, trade unions, governments, NGOs and multi-stakeholder supply chain initiatives.
In 2015, ASOS joined forces with international brands and retailers, alongside IndustriALL Global Union, to be part of Action Collaboration Transformation (ACT). Through our participation in ACT we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with IndustriALL Global Union that commits us to working with others in the sector to improve wages in key garment sourcing countries through collective bargaining. Together, ACT signatories have agreed sourcing and buying commitments that are linked to the achievement of an industry-wide collective agreement.
ASOS has long-term relationships with our suppliers as we know that our suppliers and factories play a key role in our success. However, we also know that there may be times a supplier or factory exit is necessary. In these cases, and to ensure that we do this in a responsible manner, we have developed a Responsible Exit Policy. This sets out the key steps that we take to help prevent any adverse impacts on our workers, suppliers and factories.
“A living wage is the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet the basic needs of himself/herself and his/her family, including some discretionary income. This should be earned during legal working hour limits (i.e. without overtime).”
As a signatory to ACT, we have committed to:
- Itemise labour cost in our costings
- Fair payment terms
- Better planning and forecasting
- Undertake training on responsible sourcing and buying
- Practice responsible exits
Within the ACT framework, we have conducted internal and external surveys on our purchasing practices, covering areas including sourcing strategy, forecasting & capacity planning, price negotiations, changes to orders and terms of payment. Findings from these surveys are used to identify areas for improvement and set internal targets.