Be sure there’s no slave labour in your Black Friday warehouse

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Black Friday this year falls on November 23rd and Cyber Monday is on the 26th.

The days immediately before and after these two key dates in the global shopping calendar are probably the busiest periods for any warehouse anywhere, as shoppers literally swarm over ecommerce sites and high street retailers, looking for the best bargains. 

According to 2017 research published by McKinsey, 92% of UK consumers (there are 27.2 million households in the UK) are aware of Black Friday and 30% plan to buy at least one item, typically online. Volume at this scale puts a huge strain on warehouse workers and management, many of whom are already struggling to fill jobs in some sectors.

Across the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, well over £7 billion will be spent in the UK alone, resulting in 225 million e-commerce parcels predicted to be in transit. Over 82,000 lorries and vans will be on the roads, with a lorry leaving some of the large ecommerce fulfilment centres every 90 seconds. That means warehouses will need an awful lot of additional labour to fulfil demand, and logistics workers with relevant skills are already scarce in some sectors.

At the same time, cases of modern human slavery are rising all the time, up 35% in the past year and the warehousing sector is considered a higher risk, according to the the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA). In fact, the UK as a whole is considered by experts to be one of the countries where slavery trafficking for labour exploitation is very prevalent, according to The Guardian.

It occurs in every part of the UK but, according to government data, the majority of victims referred to police between April and June this year were in London, West Yorkshire, the West Midlands, Scotland, Merseyside and Essex. This means manufacturers, retailers and their logistics service providers should be extra cautious about who they employ or engage to support them through the busy Black Friday period, to ensure they are not inadvertently exploiting victims of modern slavery.

Retailers, manufacturers and logistics service providers should be extra cautious about who they employ or engage to support them through the busy Black Friday period, to ensure they are not inadvertently exploiting victims of modern slavery.

3 ways to a slavery free supply chain

Be aware of your obligations.
If you directly employ additional warehouse workers through a third party your company is still responsible for ensuring the necessary due diligence is done when choosing a labour provider or agency. Never make assumptions.

Audit suppliers.
Check these audits include steps taken to mitigate modern slavery and include worker interviews to investigate anything suspicious. Impose Service Level Agreements with labour providers or agencies to ensure services provided meet GLAA Licencing Standards. Ensure charge rates charged by the labour provider cover employment costs and comply with minimum rates.

Too good to be true usually is.
When using a labour provider, seek verification and they are meeting legal obligations to workers. Low rates that seem too good to be true often are, because the provider might not be paying the minimum wage, national insurance, pension auto-enrolment costs and other overheads like transport costs.

There are many other legal obligations and compliance factors to take into consideration.

For detailed information and to understand how to spot signs of modern slavery, visit

Indigo Software supports the work undertaken by Hope for Justice and wants to raise awareness of the risks of unwittingly using slave labour in the warehouse. Hope for Justice is a global non-profit organisation which aims to end human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

Author: Eric Carter, Solutions Architect at Indigo Software


Indigo WMS Solutions

Indigo is a leading European warehousing and logistics provider, implementing warehouse management software solutions for dozens of happy and referenceable customers located across the UK, Europe and beyond. Established for over 35 years, we deliver and support a total warehouse management software solution with competence, expertise and integrity in a mission critical environment. Indigo…

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