Modern Slavery

This statement is made pursuant to section 54(1) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and constitutes the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) modern slavery and human trafficking statement (including our trading subsidiaries, RHS Enterprises Ltd and RHS Special Events Ltd) in relation to the financial year that ended 31 January 2021.

We are a registered charity incorporated and governed by a Royal Charter and by Bye-laws approved by our members. We have two active trading companies that donate their available profits under Gift Aid to the Society, thereby assisting the funding of our non-commercial, charitable activities:

  • RHS Enterprises Ltd – a retailer and commercial event organiser operating at RHS Gardens, RHS Shows and online
  • RHS Special Events Ltd – organises events for fundraising purposes at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival and other gardens and shows as appropriate

We are committed to ensuring modern slavery is not present in our supply chains and have introduced, and will continue to develop, policy and procedures to manage the way we obtain goods and services to keep our supply chains robust and free from modern slavery.

During the 2019/20 financial year, an internal audit was undertaken on the Society’s progress in relation to our modern slavery commitments, which identified certain areas that can be improved in our control framework. Work planned for 2020/21 to implement improvements was significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, which also resulted in a considerable reduction in the volume of goods and services supplied to the RHS as all RHS Flower Shows and events were cancelled in 2020/21.

We have an ethical trading policy in place under which all retail suppliers and licensing partners are asked to confirm that they are compliant with our requirement that their supply chains are free from modern slavery, with appropriate due diligence being undertaken on any suppliers that are identified as high risk. There are also contractual provisions relating to modern slavery in key supplier contracts, including for our RHS Flower Shows and RHS licensing agreements. Due to the diverse nature of our activities, our policies are currently departmental and we have taken a risk-based approach, targeting specific areas of our operations and supply chain that present a higher risk of modern slavery.

We will shortly implement an RHS Supplier Code of Conduct for all suppliers (not just those deemed as high risk) that includes specific prohibitions against the use of underage, forced, compulsory or trafficked labour, or anyone held in slavery or servitude (whether adults or children). Additionally, a new Procurement Policy and Procedure will be rolled out, which will require due diligence questions to be answered prior to contracting and commencing the supply of goods and/or services to ensure that suppliers have appropriate procedures and policies in place to identify, prevent and address any risks of modern slavery in their operations and their supply chains.

A Society-wide Modern Slavery Policy has now been prepared to articulate our individual and collective responsibilities in key risk areas and setting out where staff can turn to if help or guidance is needed and will be reviewed by Council and implemented this year. Our governance arrangements will also be clearly defined with assigned accountability and clear delegation of responsibility to support the rollout of this Policy.

To date, Modern Slavery Awareness training has been targeted on those in specific roles with a higher likelihood of encountering potential issues. It was planned that a broader training programme would be rolled out Society-wide in 2020/21, but this was put on hold because of staff furlough and remote working arrangements due to Covid-19. This training is now planned for the current year and will build on and reflect other relevant policies that are in place, such as our Responsible Investment Policy.

We continue to operate within the UK only and we ensure that all of our workers are eligible to work in the UK. The majority of our workers are employed directly; where on occasion we utilise agency workers, we ensure the same checks are undertaken by the agency. We ensure we pay all workers at or above the National Minimum Wage. We have clear policies on ‘grievance’ and ‘whistleblowing’ together with an employee consultation group called RHS Voices, through which employees can openly raise matters of concern. Our Employee Assistance Programme also provides staff with a secure way of seeking advice about any modern slavery or human trafficking issues personally affecting them or their families.

Approved by the RHS Council on 12 August 2021 and the Boards of RHS Enterprises Ltd and RHS Special Events Ltd on 12 August 2021. Signed by Sue Biggs, Director General.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.