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Labour Standards Assurance

NHS Supply Chain recognises its responsibility to ensure good social and ethical practices within its own operations and within its supply chain. We acknowledge that every supplier and worker deserve the right to live and work with dignity and respect, in decent and safe conditions and earn fair rates of pay. We know that under these conditions, both they and their companies benefit from increased commitment and productivity.

The NHS Supply Chain's Labour Standards Assurance System outlines the principles and guidelines we require our suppliers to comply with, in order to ensure that good labour standards are driven throughout our supply chain. We understand that assuring this compliance will be a complex process and have therefore developed the Labour Standards Assurance System 'maturity matrix' which defines four possible levels of compliance. 

We are committed to supporting our suppliers as they continually improve their performance and progress through these levels.

A Labour Standards Assurance System (LSAS) refers to the range of policies, procedures and practices that an organisation employs to identify labour standards abuses, mitigate risks and drive improvement, within:

  • The organisation itself ('direct operations')
  • Contractors and sub-contractors
  • Suppliers
  • Other parties active in the supply chain

The LSAS matrix will consider 'contractors' and 'sub-contractors' to be limited to those relevant to product manufacture (including product finishing where relevant) for audit purposes.

The terms and conditions that apply to this contract refer to a 'labour standards assurance system', the definition of which is provided by the 'labour standards assurance (management) system specification' included within this document. In addition, reference is made to achieving certain 'levels' within specified timescales. A detailed 'maturity matrix' is also included in this document that sets out requirements for all 15 sections of the 'labour standards assurance (management) system specification' under four progressive levels.


The 15 sections of the 'labour standards assurance (management) system specification' cover:

  1. 1 - Policy
  2. 2 - Management representative
  3. 3 - Labour standards status review
  4. 4 - Legal and other requirements
  5. 5 - Objectives, targets and programmes
  6. 6 - Roles and responsibilities 
  7. 7 - Competence, training and awareness
  8. 8 - Communications
  9. 9 - Documentation and records
  10. 10 - Operational control
  11. 11 - Supply chain management
  12. 12 - Emergency response 
  13. 13 - Performance monitoring and measurement
  14. 14 - Corrective action
  15. 15 - Management review


The terms and conditions that apply to this contract also make it a requirement that successful bidders commission independent third party assessments of their organisation's labour standards assurance arrangements against the 'labour standards assurance system specification' prior to or in tandem with contract award and at specified intervals throughout the duration of the contract. To support this process, audit guidance, a series of capacity building tools and references, an audit report template and summary results charts are also provided in this document. While some levels require evidence of supply chain engagement, this audit will take place at the awarded supplier's primary office, not at the premises of any party in their supply chain.


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