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Human Rights

Like all businesses we have a responsibility to respect Human Rights.

Human Rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world. They include the right to life, the right to respect for private and family life and freedom of thought, religion and expression. Underlying Our Values is the right everyone has to be treated with dignity, fairness, equality and respect, and we are committed to applying these values in our business every day, everywhere.

Our commitment to respecting human rights acknowledges all internationally recognised Human Rights as outlined in the International Bill of Rights, including the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Rights and Principles at Work. That means wherever we work in the world, we will seek to respect and uphold the fundamental Human Rights and freedoms of everyone who works for us or with us, and of the people and communities we work among.

It’s vital to stay alert so we avoid infringing the rights of others and address such impacts where they occur.  A company can be involved in adverse human rights impacts in three ways:

  • It may cause the impact through its own activities;
  • It may contribute to the impact through its own activities, either directly or through some outside entity; or
  • It may be linked to the impact caused by an entity with which it has a business relationship.
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We all have a responsibility to respect human rights.  For us the ultimate responsibility for our respect for human rights rest with the Serco Group plc Board and its Corporate Responsibility Committee which reviews and approves company policy and standards on human rights and considers any human rights risks we may face and looks at how we manage them.

We work in many parts of the world, some of which have poor Human Rights records. So our Executive Management Team must approve all projects and business opportunities before we undertake any work in them.

We recognise we can make a positive difference in helping to realise human rights through the services we offer, including through the provision of decent jobs and a contribution to the growth and development of societies. We can help people to realise their rights directly, indirectly or in partnership with others. This might be through the provision of a safe space, enabling health services or protecting people's lives. We can also work with States to reform and improve public services and conditions in areas where we operate.

If you see something that you believe may be breaching Human Rights then you should Speak Up.

For more information download:

Human Rights Group Standard

Human Rights Assessment Decision Tree Group Standard Operating Procedure

Human Rights fact sheet

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What you can expect from us:

  • We will try to identify, prevent or mitigate any adverse human rights impacts caused or contributed to by our operations to avoid any infringement on the rights of others and also identify impacts that are directly linked to our operations through our business partners and related third parties, where they are acting in connection with our operations.
  • We consider risks to people as being risks to our business. This helps us to understand our responsibilities, respond to situations where rights are impacted and respond to opportunities where rights can be supported.  
  • We will not use slave, forced, compulsory, illegal or child labour, or knowingly work with anyone who does. 
  • We have a zero tolerance policy towards any form of human trafficking, including using people for commercial sex acts, and for forced labour.
  • We will not cause or contribute to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

We expect you to:

  • Live our values in the way you respect people and protect their Human Rights.
  • Comply both with legal requirements and the requirements of Our Code.
  • Never turn a blind eye to abuse. Always ask, “Is this what we stand for?”
  • Speak Up at once if you think or suspect people’s Human Rights are being abused.

Human Rights Dilemma

There are no circumstances in which we will accept any abuse of people or their rights, and we will not knowingly work with anyone who does.

While visiting a contractor's premises with your manager, you notice that some of their employees seem very young and of school age. 

None of these young workers are ever on Serco sites. 

What should you do?

1. Nothing - it's really not our business who our contractors employ

Wrong. Please try again.

2. Talk to the contractor about his staff's age range

Wrong. Please try again.

3. Discuss what you have seen with your manager at once

This issue needs to be raised at once. We are talking here about child labour, and our Code clearly says that:

"we will never use forced, compulsory, illegal or child labour, or knowingly work with anyone who does."

Child labour is still a big problem in many parts of the world, and a major cause of Human Rights abuse. As a global company working in many different countries we do not want to be a part of that abuse, even indirectly. So wherever we work, we always apply the standards of our own Code and the values it is there to protect.

In this case it is best to raise the issue with your manager so it can be followed up in the right way. Even though these children may be above the legal minimum working age in their own country, we need to be quite certain that we are not exploiting children.

What our contractors do is our business.

Serco has developed a valuable relationship with an important customer. Now you hear vague rumours they are abusing Human Rights.

What should you do?

1. Talk it over with colleagues and get their opinions

Wrong. Please try again.

2. Tell your line manager what you have heard

Our relationship with this customer may be valuable, but commercial interests should never come before our Code.

In this case we are concerned with a potential abuse of fundamental Human Rights. We cannot ignore that and hope it goes away.

Our Code says we will not tolerate any abuse of Human Rights. We will act to protect them and prevent exploitation. And we will never knowingly take part in, or benefit from, any activity or relationship that violates people's rights directly or indirectly.

"We will not tolerate any abuse of Human Rights"

It also tells us that indirect violation usually happens when someone within our network of business relationships commits an abuse. That network includes our customers.

We work in many parts of the world. Some have poor human rights records. It's vital to stay alert so we're not involved even indirectly in abuse. Sometimes the argument, "That's how things work round here" can seem very persuasive. Never be persuaded.

So even if it risks a valuable relationship and it may just be malicious gossip, an allegation of Human Rights abuse needs to be investigated. We will always support you if you Speak Up when you think people's rights are being abused.

"At Serco we champion Human Rights."

3. Keep it to yourself and dismiss the rumours as idle talk

Wrong. Please try again.

Some critical work has been sub-contracted to a third party. One of the contractors complains to you about the extreme hours they have to work and the dirty conditions on their site. 

Is this a concern of yours?

1. No, it's nothing to do with us

Wrong. Please try again.

2. Yes, I should report it. We need to investigate

Respect for Human Rights is extremely important to Serco. It extends to our suppliers and partners, so we need to be concerned when we hear that one of them may be abusing the rights of their employees, even if it proves to be unfounded.

Our Code says we will not tolerate any abuse of Human Rights. We will act to protect them and prevent exploitation. And we will never knowingly take part in, or benefit from, any activity or relationship that violates people's rights directly or indirectly.

It also tells us that indirect violation usually happens when someone within our network of business relationships commits an abuse. That network includes suppliers, partners and customers.

It's vital to stay alert so we're not involved even indirectly in abuse. Sometimes the argument, "That's how things work round here" can seem very persuasive. Never be persuaded.

Wherever we work, we always apply the standards of our own Code and the values and working conditions it is there to protect. That means we have a responsibility to ensure our suppliers are doing the same.

That is why Our Code says,

"We will take care to check the record and activities of those we work with. If we are already working with someone we discover is abusing Human Rights, or has done so in the past, we will end the relationship and report the abuse."

3. Yes, the contractor should report it

Wrong. Please try again.

You've been using a supplier for some while. He's always reliable, and there have never been any complaints. 

Then a direct competitor of his suggests he is using illegal immigrants as labour.

How would you act?

1. Ask the competitor to give more details

Wrong. Please try again.

2. Report the matter at once to Human Resources and/or your line manager

We do not want to risk being associated with any abuse of Human Rights. So every allegation needs to be investigated, if only so we can discount it.

Our Code says we will not tolerate any abuse of Human Rights. We will act to protect them and prevent exploitation. And we will never knowingly take part in, or benefit from, any activity or relationship that violates people's rights directly or indirectly.

"We will not tolerate any abuse of Human Rights"

It also tells us that indirect violation usually happens when someone within our network of business relationships commits an abuse. That network includes suppliers, partners and customers.

Wherever we work, we always apply the standards of our own Code and the values and working conditions it is there to protect. That means we have a responsibility to ensure our suppliers are doing the same. So we need to be concerned when we hear that one of them may be abusing the rights of their employees, even if it proves to be unfounded.

It's vital to stay alert so we're not involved even indirectly in abuse. Sometimes the argument, "That's how things work round here" can seem very persuasive. Never be persuaded.

Always report any allegation of Human Rights abuse.

3. Ignore it – the source of the information is clearly unreliable

Wrong. Please try again.

Dilemma 1

While visiting a contractor's premises with your manager, you notice that some of their employees seem very young and of school age. 

None of these young workers are ever on Serco sites. 

What should you do?

1. Nothing - it's really not our business who our contractors employ

Wrong. Please try again.

2. Talk to the contractor about his staff's age range

Wrong. Please try again.

3. Discuss what you have seen with your manager at once

This issue needs to be raised at once. We are talking here about child labour, and our Code clearly says that:

"we will never use forced, compulsory, illegal or child labour, or knowingly work with anyone who does."

Child labour is still a big problem in many parts of the world, and a major cause of Human Rights abuse. As a global company working in many different countries we do not want to be a part of that abuse, even indirectly. So wherever we work, we always apply the standards of our own Code and the values it is there to protect.

In this case it is best to raise the issue with your manager so it can be followed up in the right way. Even though these children may be above the legal minimum working age in their own country, we need to be quite certain that we are not exploiting children.

What our contractors do is our business.

Dilemma 2

Serco has developed a valuable relationship with an important customer. Now you hear vague rumours they are abusing Human Rights.

What should you do?

1. Talk it over with colleagues and get their opinions

Wrong. Please try again.

2. Tell your line manager what you have heard

Our relationship with this customer may be valuable, but commercial interests should never come before our Code.

In this case we are concerned with a potential abuse of fundamental Human Rights. We cannot ignore that and hope it goes away.

Our Code says we will not tolerate any abuse of Human Rights. We will act to protect them and prevent exploitation. And we will never knowingly take part in, or benefit from, any activity or relationship that violates people's rights directly or indirectly.

"We will not tolerate any abuse of Human Rights"

It also tells us that indirect violation usually happens when someone within our network of business relationships commits an abuse. That network includes our customers.

We work in many parts of the world. Some have poor human rights records. It's vital to stay alert so we're not involved even indirectly in abuse. Sometimes the argument, "That's how things work round here" can seem very persuasive. Never be persuaded.

So even if it risks a valuable relationship and it may just be malicious gossip, an allegation of Human Rights abuse needs to be investigated. We will always support you if you Speak Up when you think people's rights are being abused.

"At Serco we champion Human Rights."

3. Keep it to yourself and dismiss the rumours as idle talk

Wrong. Please try again.

Dilemma 3

Some critical work has been sub-contracted to a third party. One of the contractors complains to you about the extreme hours they have to work and the dirty conditions on their site. 

Is this a concern of yours?

1. No, it's nothing to do with us

Wrong. Please try again.

2. Yes, I should report it. We need to investigate

Respect for Human Rights is extremely important to Serco. It extends to our suppliers and partners, so we need to be concerned when we hear that one of them may be abusing the rights of their employees, even if it proves to be unfounded.

Our Code says we will not tolerate any abuse of Human Rights. We will act to protect them and prevent exploitation. And we will never knowingly take part in, or benefit from, any activity or relationship that violates people's rights directly or indirectly.

It also tells us that indirect violation usually happens when someone within our network of business relationships commits an abuse. That network includes suppliers, partners and customers.

It's vital to stay alert so we're not involved even indirectly in abuse. Sometimes the argument, "That's how things work round here" can seem very persuasive. Never be persuaded.

Wherever we work, we always apply the standards of our own Code and the values and working conditions it is there to protect. That means we have a responsibility to ensure our suppliers are doing the same.

That is why Our Code says,

"We will take care to check the record and activities of those we work with. If we are already working with someone we discover is abusing Human Rights, or has done so in the past, we will end the relationship and report the abuse."

3. Yes, the contractor should report it

Wrong. Please try again.

Dilemma 4

You've been using a supplier for some while. He's always reliable, and there have never been any complaints. 

Then a direct competitor of his suggests he is using illegal immigrants as labour.

How would you act?

1. Ask the competitor to give more details

Wrong. Please try again.

2. Report the matter at once to Human Resources and/or your line manager

We do not want to risk being associated with any abuse of Human Rights. So every allegation needs to be investigated, if only so we can discount it.

Our Code says we will not tolerate any abuse of Human Rights. We will act to protect them and prevent exploitation. And we will never knowingly take part in, or benefit from, any activity or relationship that violates people's rights directly or indirectly.

"We will not tolerate any abuse of Human Rights"

It also tells us that indirect violation usually happens when someone within our network of business relationships commits an abuse. That network includes suppliers, partners and customers.

Wherever we work, we always apply the standards of our own Code and the values and working conditions it is there to protect. That means we have a responsibility to ensure our suppliers are doing the same. So we need to be concerned when we hear that one of them may be abusing the rights of their employees, even if it proves to be unfounded.

It's vital to stay alert so we're not involved even indirectly in abuse. Sometimes the argument, "That's how things work round here" can seem very persuasive. Never be persuaded.

Always report any allegation of Human Rights abuse.

3. Ignore it – the source of the information is clearly unreliable

Wrong. Please try again.