Scentre Group agrees to boost pandemic reporting

Westfield operator to report on how it prevents wage theft in cleaning contracts and manages cleaning workloads.

Scentre Group Limited, owner and operator of Westfield Shopping Centres in Australia and New Zealand, has agreed to report on how it prevents wage theft in its cleaning contracts and how it is managing safe workloads for cleaning staff.

The new reporting will form part of its Responsible Business Report and Modern Slavery Statement to be released in the first half of 2021.

It comes after months of engagement with the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility​ (ACCR).

In response, ACCR has agreed to withdraw a planned shareholder resolution at their upcoming AGM calling for additional reporting from the company on its management of cleaning contracts.

Scentre Group is one of the largest procurers of commercial cleaning services in Australia, which has been identified as a high risk sector for modern slavery.

Under this new agreement, Scentre Group will disclose not just the processes for identifying and mitigating risks within their cleaning supply chains, but also how work, health and safety obligations are monitored and the efficacy of grievance mechanisms available to workers.

Commenting on the agreement, Dr Katie Hepworth, Director of Workers’ Rights, said: “Property owners are on notice. Investors want to know how they are meeting their obligations to cleaners and keeping us all safe.

“Cleaners are doing extra work to keep us safe, and Scentre Group has a responsibility to ensure that contracted cleaners are being properly paid and have appropriate protections in place to prevent infection and transmission of COVID-19.

“Scentre Group needs customers back in their malls, and this reporting will help to reassure investors and the public that steps have been taken to identify and mitigate issues in their cleaning supply chain.

“Victoria’s Chadstone Mall cluster began with a cleaner who worked while symptomatic, making clear the very real risks of reopening without addressing the work, health and safety breaches that are rife in cleaning contracts.

“We are pleased that Scentre Group has responded to calls for transparency in the due diligence it performs on its cleaning contracts.”

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