Modern slavery: annual statement 2019/20


This statement is made pursuant to section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

It informs our students, staff, suppliers, stakeholders and the public about the steps that we have taken, and will take, to mitigate any risk of modern slavery, human trafficking, forced and bonded labour and labour rights violations within our organisation and supply chains. This statement covers the 12 month period to 31 July 2020.

About the University

The University of Leeds is an independent corporation established by Royal Charter and is globally renowned for the quality of its teaching and research. The University is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK with more than 38,000 students, over 9,200 staff and a turnover of £792 million. The University is committed to achieving academic excellence within an ethical framework informed by our values of integrity, equality and inclusion, community and professionalism.

Driven by its values, in particular, the University is unswerving in its commitment to meeting the requirements of the Act and we will therefore take all reasonable steps to ensure that modern slavery or human trafficking does not occur in any part of our organisation or supply chains.

Our supply chains


The University’s Financial Policy and Guidelines govern the procurement of goods and services. We are committed to sustainable procurement and our approach to delivering this is set out in our Sustainable Procurement Standard. We have developed our approach to sustainable procurement using the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Flexible Framework for Sustainable Procurement in Government and have self-assessed to Level 4.

The University is a member of the “The University Caterers Organisation” (TUCO), the “North East Universities Purchasing Consortium” (NEUPC), and “The Energy Consortium” (TEC), all of which are members of “UK Universities Purchasing Consortia” (UKUPC). NEUPC, TUCO, and TEC have all published their own Modern Slavery Act 2015 (Transparency in Supply Chains) Statements.

The University has adopted a continual improvement approach to monitoring its supply chains and to working with suppliers to gain a greater understanding of the source of supply, to identifying instances of modern slavery within our supply chains and to working with suppliers to mitigate any identified issues.

Following the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, the University updated all procurement documentation and processes to enable more proactive steps to investigate and act upon any indications of Modern Slavery evidenced in the supply chains upon which we rely. Before the University awards contracts of significant value, suppliers are required to confirm compliance with the Act as well as providing confirmation that they will support our ambitions in this regard.

The University takes a category-led approach to procurement. Our categories include:

  • Hard Facility Management and Construction
  • Soft Facility Management (incorporating commercial operations)
  • IT
  • Laboratory Products and Services
  • Workshop and Engineering Supplies
  • Professional Services
  • Office Supplies
  • Travel

The University has graded each category in terms of risk against sustainability good practice. Analysis of our supply chains in relation to the Act focuses on the first-tier supplier base. The categories that have been identified as likely to bear the greatest risk in first-tier supply are Hard Facilities Management, Construction and Soft Facilities Management (including catering and cleaning services). We are aware that these categories rely on lower paid workers to deliver the service and are sectors where modern forms of slavery may be more likely to occur. To mitigate this the University’s suppliers which operate in these industries have been categorised into 32 sub-groups to facilitate a more granular approach to both sourcing and management. The University’s Sustainable Procurement (contracted goods & services) Procedure identifies this risk and outlines mitigating actions. This Procedure is currently under review and will be updated during 2021.

Further areas of risk include IT and Laboratory products, owing to the complexity of the supply chains within these industries and the wide range of hazardous materials used in manufacturing. We also review the activities for each category management type and update these as appropriate.

The University’s Purchasing and Sustainability Services facilitate the delivery of sustainable procurement through the category management process, including tendering activity, contract management and value tracking, seeking continuous improvement where possible.

To support this the University is a member of both national and sector specific groups; an example of this Electronics Watch, which helps to manage labour risks in our IT supply chains.


  • The University has an active executive team managing all activities and risks associated with Covid-19. This is communicated through a comprehensive dedicated COVID-19 website.
  • We have continued to pay suppliers for goods and services to standard or improved terms, offering specific support to those identified at risk (such as SMEs) or unable to deliver contracted services.
  • We have implemented a Covid-19 safe campus for staff, students and visitors.
  • The University has not terminated contracts as a result of Covid-19, choosing only to pause agreements where necessary.
  • Suppliers and Sub-contractors required to work on site have been provided with additional welfare facilities and support to meet the University’s enhanced Health and Safety requirements.
  • The Procurement service continues to assess and react to the impact of Modern Slavery throughout the supply chain specifically in the context of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Employment of staff

The University’s commitment to securing the rights of our staff is set out in our institutional HR policies and procedures.

Key HR policies of relevance to the Modern Slavery Act are:


The University is committed to raising awareness of the risks of modern slavery and human trafficking in our organisation and supply chains. In February 2020, collaborating with internal and external experts, we delivered training on all aspects of sustainable procurement including the Modern Slavery Act and our local practices and procedures to over 40 members of the University’s Procurement and Sustainability teams.

To further enhance our understanding of modern slavery and human trafficking risks, all category team members are either working towards, or are CIPS-qualified; follow the CIPS Code of Conduct; and, where possible, have completed the CIPS Ethical Procurement and Supply course giving them Chartered Status.

View the signed Modern Slavery Statement 2019/20 (PDF)