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New FLEX Briefing Explains Risks to Migrant Workers under Proposed Post-Brexit Plans

March 4, 2019

The government is proposing two temporary migration programmes to bring workers to the UK after Brexit, one in the agricultural sector and one which is non-sector specific. These schemes pose significant risks of enabling labour abuse and exploitation, including human trafficking and forced labour.

Today, FLEX publishes its new policy briefing explaining these two temporary migration programmes (TMPs) and the risks they present to workers.

These risks include:

  • debt bondage
  • poverty
  • inability to leave exploitative employers
  • low knowledge of rights and English language and limited support networks

FLEX does not support migration policy which serves to limit the rights of migrant workers, thereby placing them at risk of abuse and exploitation. Programmes like those proposed can enable abuse and exploitation and create a two-tiered labour market: the upper tier comprised of those with citizenship or visa statuses which enable people to access state support and are therefore better able to leave exploitative situations; and a lower tier of workers which unscrupulous employers will view as having little choice but to stay in abusive situations and whom those employers know will have to leave the country in a relatively short timeframe.

Our new briefing provides strong recommendations for the government to prevent this occuring and to ensure workers coming to the UK under these programmes, or others like them, are not placed at greater risk of abuse and exploitation, including human trafficking and forced labour.

These include:

  • increasing the resources and remit of labour inspectorates to enable them to carry out proactive enforcement of labour laws in the UK
  • ensuring all migrant workers have access to public funds
  • licensing labour providers in all sectors which may take workers under these schemes
  • ensuring workers can change employers freely and under reasonable terms
  • setting wages and conditions with worker representatives

Read the full briefing here.