Welsh construction company R&M Williams is the first company to use a new facial recognition app which aims to tackle modern slavery.
The Cardiff-based contractor, which employees around 400 staff, uses the Credas app to ensure its workforce has been recruited ethically.
Credas, also the name of the company which developed the app, aims to help anyone who manages construction recruitment and provide “peace of mind that employees and sub-contractors are verified to work in the UK”.
The app uses real-time facial recognition technology to quickly process and verify ID and help construction companies to recruit ethically. Its verification process consists of three steps: a selfie, a photo of the photo ID, and a liveness test. The tests require the person to be present when the verification photo is being taken.
Since the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act in 2015, all companies with an annual turnover of more than £36m must issue a Transparency Statement, detailing what they have done to ensure modern slavery is not present in their business or supply chain.
Earlier this year, a government report estimated that there are between 10,000 and 13,000 modern slaves in the UK, and in a 2015 research report by the European Union, construction was second on the list of economic sectors in the EU most prone to labour exploitation.
Credas CEO Rhys David said: “Demand is currently outweighing supply in the construction industry, meaning the need for a scalable, quick and temporary workforce sees no sign of waning.
“Consequently, the risk of a forced workforce entering the sector is increased, yet the industry still has a lot do when it comes to tackling modern slavery. It is an industry which relies on sub-contractors, and so is an easy target for traffickers.
“Due diligence is difficult to undertake, but essential, and construction companies are forced to go through long processes to avoid putting themselves at risk.
“The main issue for construction companies is ensuring that all employees – regardless of where they are on the supply chain – have been properly verified before stepping on-site. By integrating the right technology and processes early on in recruitment, businesses can ensure they are compliant and that their staff are safe.”