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Anti-slavery and ethics policies

Anti-slavery policy

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is the United Kingdom's national standards laboratory, an internationally respected and independent centre of excellence in research. It is qualified to provide many scientific and technical measurement services because of the skills, experience and reputation of its professional staff and is engaged in the business of research and development and of providing training and consultancy services.

Modern slavery is a criminal offence under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and a violation of fundamental human rights. It takes various forms, such as slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking, all of which have in common the deprivation of a person's liberty by another in order to exploit them for personal or commercial gain.

NPL has a zero-tolerance approach to modern slavery and we are committed to acting ethically and with integrity in all our business dealings and relationships and to implementing and enforcing effective measures to ensure modern slavery is not taking place anywhere in our own business or in any of our supply chains.

This policy applies to all persons working for us or on our behalf in any capacity, including employees at all levels, directors, officers, agency workers, seconded workers, students, volunteers, interns, agents, contractors, external consultants, third-party representatives and business partners.

Ethics policy

The National Physical Laboratory's management framework and scientific principles are based on rigour, respect and responsibility.

NPL will:

  • Always work within sound scientific principles.
  • Challenge our involvement in scientific work that raises ethical issues.
  • Document our decision making.

NPL's scientific research is built on a foundation of trust and integrity and, as an organisation, we are committed to the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct. NPL's research is undertaken in accordance with the highest standards of research methodology.

NPL adheres to the Government Office for Science's Universal Ethical Code for Scientists.

This universal ethical code of the values and responsibilities of scientists, has three main aims:

  1. To encourage ethical research.
  2. To get scientists thinking about the implications and impacts of their work.
  3. To support communication between scientists and the public on complex and challenging issues.

NPL is committed to ensuring that there is no modern slavery or human trafficking in our supply chains or in any part of our business.

NPL management limited slavery and human trafficking statement 2023


This statement has been published in accordance with the modern slavery act 2015 which requires organisations with an annual turnover above £36m to publish an annual slavery and human trafficking statement. NPL’s annual turnover exceeds this threshold.

This statement sets out the steps taken by NPL during 2023 to prevent modern slavery and human trafficking in its business and supply chains.

Relevant policies

NPL operates the following policies to support its approach to the identification of modern slavery risks and the steps to be taken to prevent slavery and human trafficking in its operations.

  • Ethics policy
    - In addition, NPL adheres to the government office for science’s universal ethical dode for scientists
  • Anti-slavery policy
  • Whistleblowing policy
  • NPL anti-fraud policy
  • Code of conduct
  • Responsible procurement statement

NPL’s supply chain and due diligence

NPL will not engage in business with any supplier or individual known to engage in practices which are in breach of the Act. NPL practices robust due diligence throughout the tender supplier selection process, including use of the UK government supplier questionnaire (SQ) for all contracts valued over £100,000 which contains specific requirements related to the act.

NPL also use supplier intelligence sources, such as CreditSafe, to ensure that all our suppliers are financially, ethically and legally sound, and Electronics Watch. If a supplier is found to be in breach of the act or found to have misled NPL during the tendering process, immediate steps will be taken to measure the impact of the breach, and if necessary, terminate the contract.

NPL’s standard terms and conditions require our suppliers and each of their subcontractors to comply with the act.

NPL’s supply chain mainly falls under the following categories:

  • Laboratory equipment and consumables
  • IT Hardware, Software and Associated Support
  • Professional Services
  • FM Services
  • Travel
  • Fleet

NPLs supply chain is predominantly based in the UK and due to the types of products and services procured the risk of modern slavery within our supply chain is considered low.


Where possible NPL uses suppliers that have been appointed through London Universities Procurement Consortium (LUPC) and Crown Commercial Services (CCS) Frameworks. Where the company, its clients or suppliers develop any concerns relating to Modern Slavery (or any other matter) for current contracts, they are raised with the LUPC or CCS procurement service for investigation and resolution.

Developments in 2023

NPL has continued to ensure that HEPA Training in Guide to Modern Slavery and Protecting Human Rights in the Supply Chain has been undertaken by all members of the Procurement team. Procurement staff also complete the CIPS annual ethics training. Further training and awareness sessions will be scheduled for the wider business as appropriate. Through its membership of LUPC, NPL is an affiliated member of Electronics Watch, the independent monitoring organisation which helps public sector entities to work together to meet their responsibility to protect the labour rights and safety of workers in global electronics supply chains. This also enables us to have access to guidance, resources and contract clauses that support responsible procurement.

Our sustainable procurement policy is a fundamental pillar of NPL.

Further considerations

NPL is working to increase awareness within our organisation and to ensure a high level of understanding of the risks associated with modern slavery and human trafficking in our supply chains and in our business. Staff are expected to report concerns about slavery and human trafficking, and we will act upon them in accordance with our policies and code of conduct. This statement is made pursuant to section 54 (1) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and constitutes NPL’s slavery and human trafficking statement for NPL’s financial year ending 31st Dec 2023.

Penny Holt
Chief Financial Officer
NPL Management Limited


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