This report and policy briefing based on research led by Nottingham Rights Lab in partnership with FLEX, the Institute of Public Care at Oxford Brookes University, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine identifies the factors that put live-in migrant carers at greater risk of exploitation and modern slavery, setting out what can be done to mitigate these risks and recommendations for policy changes to reduce workers’ vulnerability to labour exploitation, particularly for those with precarious immigration status.
These three videos accompany the report based on research led by Nottingham Rights Lab in partnership with FLEX, the Institute of Public Care at Oxford Brookes University, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine exploring the risks of exploitation for live-in migrant care workers in London.
Engaging in Feminist Participatory Action Research within the Care Sector
Advocating for Paid, Migrant, Live-in Care Workers
Understanding Your Rights
We applaud Sir Mo Farah for his courage in sharing his experience of being a survivor of child trafficking and shining a much-needed light on this vital issue. Tragically this experience highlights the harm caused to tens of thousands of men, women and children in the UK who are exploited and subjected to human trafficking or slavery and the nature of child abuse and these serious crimes.
This is why we have signed a joint statement with colleagues working to prevent and address trafficking calling on the the government to strengthen our identification and support systems, to make sure that they work for victims in practice. The UK must commit to guaranteed support for survivors making the difficult decision to come forward about their abuse. We must urgently implement secure reporting systems to encourage those still in a trafficking situation to know they can access justice without their data being shared with immigration enforcement; end the substantial delays in decision making that leave victims in limbo, without the right study, work or confidence to rebuild their lives. We must ensure access to key entitlements such as child protection and care, specialist legal advice and medical support as well as support to access education and employment to enable recovery.
FLEX has responded to the Director of Labour Market Enforcement's Strategy 2023 to 2024: Call for Evidence, highlighting the need to address risks to prevent labour exploitation. In particular, it calls for an understanding of the risks associated with the end of free movement, UK immigration policy, restrictive immigration routes such as temporary migration programmes, and precarious work to be embedded within the work of the DLME's Office.
In this joint response to the Legal Aid Means Test Review consultation by Anti-Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit (ATLEU), Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX), Hope for Justice, Simpson Millar, and Survivor Collective, we call for survivors of trafficking and modern slavery to be entitled to non means tested legal aid. Our response is informed by experience of the challenges faced by survivors of trafficking and modern slavery in accessing legal aid. Without access to legal advice, survivors are left at risk of destitution, homelessness, removal, and vulnerable to further exploitation and re-trafficking.
This submission of evidence by the Detention Taskforce for pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Victims Bill focusses on the need for the Bill and Victim’s Code to be drafted in such a way as to ensure that all victims of crime, including those subject to immigration control, are included. If the Bill is to ensure equal access to justice and support for all victims, it must include a provision that would guarantee secure reporting pathways and prevent automatic data sharing between statutory services and Immigration Enforcement.
This joint briefing produced with ATLEU, ECPAT UK, Helen Bamber Foundation, and Hope for Justice outlines our concerns about the new draft Slavery and Human Trafficking (Definition of Victim) Regulations, raising concerns that they could have far-reaching damaging consequences for victims of trafficking and modern slavery because they narrow the definition of a victim of trafficking and modern slavery and therefore reduce the scope that victims will be identified.
FLEX's video explains the links between labour abuses and more severe forms of labour exploitation, featuring testimonies from workers and highlighting what needs to be done to help protect workers and prevent exploitation.
In this article in the Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, FLEX's Lucila Granada and Meri Ahlberg highlight the role states have in creating the conditions under which labour exploitation can occur. Specifically, it identifies several immigration policy decisions related to the UK’s exit from the European Union that will likely result in an increase in the number of irregular migrants in the United Kingdom and how this increase, when combined with measures that have progressively restricted the rights and entitlements of various immigration categories, creates an environment conducive to labour exploitation. It presents measures that could help address this problem, including changes to immigration policies and the strengthening of the labour market enforcement system.
Together with a number of UK based organisations working to prevent and end trafficking FLEX has made a submission to the United Kingdom, UN Periodic Review, 4th cycle, November 2022 on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery.
Our submission highlights gaps in the UK's current response and actions. Recommendations cover addressing obstacles to identification and protection measures; the impact of immigration enforcement centred approaches; access to legal aid, the rights of overseas domestic workers; the need for Business Human Rights legislation; and the Seasonal Workers Scheme for agricultural workers.
This position paper highlights the gap in enforcement of sexual harassment protections in the workplace and the steps that need to be taken to better protect workers, especially those in low-paid and insecure work. It is based on primary research and case studies collected by FLEX in the cleaning, hospitality and app-based delivery sectors, as well as engagement with academics, frontline migrant organisations and trade unions.
Organisations from the anti-trafficking sector have responded to the Government’s Human Rights Act consultation, raising significant concerns with the proposals. If implemented, the proposed changes will undermine fundamental support and protection for victims of modern slavery offences. Rather than tackling the causes of human trafficking and creating meaningful pathways out of exploitation, they demonstrate that this is an exercise to curtail fundamental rights and evade accountability and responsibility.
FLEX and other members of the Home Office’s Vulnerability Advisory Group have written to the Home Secretary and Minister for Immigration calling for proactive steps to be taken urgently to mitigate additional risks for Ukrainian nationals on the Seasonal Workers' Visa (SWV) and their families as a result of the conflict in Ukraine. These include creating more options for workers on the SWP including recourse to public funds and the ability to work in different sectors.
This joint response to the Home Office review of data-sharing for migrant victims and witnesses of crime by FLEX and partner organisations raises concerns about its failure to address the findings of the police super-complaint and call from migrant sector representatives to stop using data from victims and witnesses of crime for immigration enforcement purposes, despite the consistent evidence that this practice leaves those with insecure status too fearful to come forward, prevents victims from reporting crimes, and empowers exploiters and other perpetrators of abuse.
With the recognition that adequate and robust support and protections are a key element to prevention, FLEX’s response to the Victims' Bill consultation primarily looks at the proposals with the aim of reducing risk of labour exploitation. FLEX’s underlying position and recommendation is that all workers, regardless of employment and immigration status, should be able and supported to report abuse and access vital protections. FLEX is concerned that the immigration enforcement-centred approach to human trafficking (in conjunction with broader ‘Hostile Environment’ policies) has created and exacerbated vulnerabilities that impede victims’ ability to access support and exit their exploitation. We recognise that while the ambitions of the Bill are laudable, the success of their delivery will depend on the details and the degree to which the barriers which exist in practice for victims are addressed.
This joint publication by FLEX and the Latin American Women's Rights Service (LAWRS) highlights the negative impact of data-sharing between the police/labour inspectors and immigration enforcement on migrant victims of crime, in particular domestic abuse and labour exploitation, and shows how the introduction of safe reporting mechanisms can help prevent and address abuse and exploitation. Building on international good practice, it outlines practical strategies to increase trust between these agencies and migrant communities to enable migrants to securely report abuse and exploitation and agencies to access valuable intelligence to prevent and address these crimes.
As the Nationality and Borders Bill reaches reporting stage in the House of Lords, this joint briefing with other organisations in the anti-trafficking sector raises concerns around clause 39 of the Bill which will criminalise victims of trafficking who arrived in the UK in breach of the immigration rules, preventing them from reporting crime such as domestic abuse or exploitation. It calls on Peers to support an amendment to ensure victims of trafficking and abuse can safely report crime without fear of immigration repercussions through secure reporting.
FLEX’s response to the Government’s review of the first year of the Seasonal Workers Pilot summarises and reflects on key points included in the Government’s review, focusing on workers’ welfare and providing further insight by drawing on the findings of our own research in this area, which provides the first independent assessment of the experiences of workers on the scheme. It also provides a series of recommendations to further reduce the level of risk faced by workers engaging in this scheme and to ensure the effectiveness of future reviews.
Data received from a Freedom of Information request made by FLEX on behalf of the Labour Exploitation Advisory Group (LEAG) to the Home Office shows that between 2017 and 2021 victims of modern slavery have been identified at increasing rates from within immigration detention. This briefing summarises the policy and wider context regarding decision-making for victims of modern slavery who have been detained. It finds that the data is clear that government decision makers agree with the vast majority of trafficking referrals from immigration detention. This is in contrast with claims made in the New Plan for Immigration and the framing of the Nationality and Borders Bill of ‘false trafficking claims’ and abuse of the modern slavery system. It suggests instead that focus needs to be on ensuring that victims are not detained but should be supported to early identification and to access entitlements to rebuild their lives.
As the Nationality and Borders Bill reaches committee stage in the House of Lords, this briefing by the Detention Taskforce sets out concerns about the impact of Part 5 of the Bill on victims of modern slavery. Measures dealing with identification and support for victims of crime do not belong in an immigration bill. Their inclusion risks muddling the two issues and undermining the Modern Slavery Act 2015. The briefing highlights particular clauses of concern and calls for the removal of Part 5 of the Bill and mitigating amendments.
FLEX's written evidence to the EFRA Committee inquiry into labour shortages in the food and farming industry highlights the risks of labour exploitation on the Seasonal Workers' Pilot (SWP), drawing on its own research in this area and its response to the recent Government review of the first year of the SWP. The UK needs to ensure it is not facilitating exploitation by treating workers as commodities who cannot access legal rights or safeguards. It needs to plan for a more sustainable, fairer approach that ensures the protection of workers and industries rather than proceeding with unplanned opening and closing of routes without consultation, or proper monitoring of recruitment and working conditions, learning from existing schemes as to the practicalities and risk areas, or even allowing time for parliamentary scrutiny.
FLEX's CEO has joined the leaders of over 100 organisations in the anti-slavery sector writing to MPs calling on them to consider the unintended negative consequences of the Nationality and Borders Bill on victims of trafficking and slavery in its current form.
On Human Rights Day 2021, FLEX signed this open letter coordinated by Kalayaan calling on the UK government to restore basic rights for domestic workers under the UK Overseas Domestic Workers Visa.
As the Nationality and Borders Bill enters the House of Lords it is vital to consider the evidence base and reasoning behind the inclusion of clauses relating to victims of slavery. Measures dealing with identification and support for victims of crime do not belong within a Bill on migration. Their inclusion risks muddling the two issues and undermining the Modern Slavery Act 2015. There is also a disconnect between the experiences of trafficked people and those supporting them, and the justification for measures in the Bill. The government claims it wants to end ‘abuse of the UK’s Modern Slavery System’ without any evidence of this ‘abuse’. It is our experience that the real issue is that individuals have been exploited but the current systems and structures prevent them challenging this treatment and seeking help. This briefing by the Taskforce on Victims of Trafficking in Immigration Detention sets out these concerns and explains why the Nationality and Borders Bill will only worsen the situation, driving victims underground, increasing the numbers in immigration detention and playing into the hands of exploiters.
This briefing on the experiences and drivers of exploitation for young migrant workers analyses age as a risk factor for labour exploitation, considering how it intersects with other vulnerabilities. It is based on data collected through participatory research with workers in cleaning, hospitality, and app-based deliveries, alongside existing literature, as part of a three-year project aimed at addressing the knowledge gap concerning experiences and drivers of labour abuse and exploitation in these under-researched, low-paid sectors of the economy. The focus of the briefing is on workers aged 16-24, as young people are most likely to be working in sectors with the highest levels of precarious employment, temporary jobs, and casual contracts, yet there is a lack of research and understanding of their experiences of work.
This is the final in a series of three working papers exploring the experiences and drivers of labour abuse and exploitation in three understudied low-paid sectors of the economy: cleaning, hospitality and the app-based delivery sector. This latest research focuses on the experiences of app-based couriers in the food and goods delivery sector in the UK, investigating what issues couriers are facing at work, what change they would like to see, and the factors which may create risk of labour abuse and exploitation in the platform economy. Like the other papers, it uses a feminist participatory action research (FPAR) approach where workers from the sector are involved as paid peer researchers throughout, enabling those with lived experience to shape the research findings and recommendations.
FLEX's written submission in response to the call for evidence on the UK Modern Slavery Strategy Review highlights the need to identify and address the structural factors which create vulnerability to exploitation as the basis of prevention in the context of modern slavery, as well as to take account of the interactions between slavery and other proposed and existing legislation.
On the 8th of November 2021 the Home Office created a new body, the Immigration Enforcement Competent Authority (IECA), for the stated purpose of identifying victims of modern slavery. The Detention Taskforce, together with many in the wider modern slavery and human rights sector, is deeply concerned about the serious impact this will have on victims of modern slavery and have produced and signed a statement setting out concerns and calling, at minimum, for a reversal of this measure which was introduced without consultation and is a retrograde step. Having a two-tier identification system will mean that many victims of modern slavery in the UK who lack secure immigration status will not be appropriately identified, protected or supported, and will therefore fear coming forward to the authorities to seek help.
This report explores the experiences of migrant workers in low-paid and insecure work during the Covid-19 pandemic, focusing on barriers to accessing employment rights and social protections, and the associated risks of labour abuse and exploitation. The report is the result of a partnership between FLEX, the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) and United Voices of the World (UVW). It provides a basis for understanding why a well-functioning social security system is crucial for preventing labour exploitation and outlines key changes needed to ensure the UK’s social safety net does not fail the growing number of people in low-paid and insecure work.
- Report - No viable alternatives: Social (in)security and risk of labour exploitation during Covid-19
- Executive Summary - No viable alternatives: Social (in)security and risk of labour exploitation during Covid-19
- Annex - No viable alternatives: Social (in)security and risk of labour exploitation during Covid-19
This submission of evidence focuses on Part 4 of the Nationality and Borders Bill and recommends that Part 4 is removed from the Bill in its entirety as its inclusion conflates immigration matters with modern slavery and in doing so undermines the UK’s efforts to tackle modern slavery. This evidence covers the need for a clear separation of powers between law enforcement and immigration enforcement in order that victims are able to report crimes securely, barriers to identifying victims of trafficking, and the need to work with people with lived experience of those systems to understand what would have helped them to escape earlier and better support their recovery.
This report is the second of three working papers exploring the experiences and drivers of labour abuse and exploitation in three understudied low-paid sectors of the economy: cleaning, hospitality and the app-based courier sector. It highlights key workplace issues in the hospitality sector, finding it to be a high-risk sector for labour abuse and exploitation, with workers experiencing frequent issues with pay, inability to take time off sick, dangerous working conditions and work-related violence. Like the cleaning working paper, it uses a feminist participatory action research (FPAR) approach where workers from the sector are involved at every stage of the research process, from design to data collection and analysis.
FLEX has responded to the government’s consultation on the ‘New Plan for Immigration’ (the plan/proposal). FLEX’s work focuses on preventing labour exploitation. This submission provides a response to all questions where our area of expertise is relevant to inform the developments of this proposal. With the recognition that adequate and robust support and protections are a key element to prevention, our response primarily looks at the plan with the aim of reducing risk of labour exploitation.
FLEX has joined Corporate Justice Coalition and other civil society organisations in responding to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee report: ‘Uyghur forced labour in Xinjiang and UK value chains’, supporting its conclusion that the Modern Slavery Act is not fit for purpose to ensure that companies are taking steps to address modern slavery risks in their supply chains and calling for new legislation to hold companies accountable for human rights abuses.
This publication outlines key learnings and recommendations from FLEX’s work using Feminist Participatory Action Research (FPAR) as part of a three-year research project that seeks to understand experiences and drivers of labour abuse and exploitation in three understudied low-paid sectors of the economy: cleaning, hospitality and app-based deliveries. It documents what we have learnt about using this approach and provides a sounding board for those interested in or already applying FPAR in their own work, drawing on project observations, insights from academic literature, conversations with stakeholders and, primarily, the perspectives of workers themselves.
This report, based on research carried out over the past year by FLEX with consultant Caroline Robinson and Fife Migrants Forum, provides unique independent evidence of worker experiences on the Seasonal Workers Pilot (SWP), a temporary labour migration programme that seeks to respond to concerns about labour shortages in agriculture, particularly following the end of free movement. Drawing on primary data collected with workers in Scottish farms, the report highlights the risk of human trafficking for forced labour for workers coming to work on the Seasonal Worker Visa and provides details of these risks in line with a range of ILO forced labour indicators, including deception about the nature of the work, degrading living conditions, excessive dependency on employers and lack of freedom to change employer. It proposes strategies to the UK and Scottish governments to tackle these risks and to protect current and future workers, particularly in light of the recent expansion of the scheme.
- Executive Summary - Assessment of the risks of human trafficking for forced labour on the UK Seasonal Workers Pilot
- Report - Assessment of the risks of human trafficking for forced labour on the UK Seasonal Workers Pilot
- Annex 1 - Assessment of the risks of human trafficking for forced labour on the UK Seasonal Workers Pilot
- Russian translation - New report highlights risks of human trafficking on UK Seasonal Workers Pilot
- Lithuanian translation - New report highlights risks of human trafficking on UK Seasonal Workers Pilot
This joint briefing, published by FLEX and partner organisations on the 6-year anniversary of the UK Modern Slavery Act, calls on the UK Home Office to urgently review access to work for survivors of trafficking, who are currently prevented from working due to immigration restrictions, to allow them to work whilst they are in the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), in order to enable independence and sustainable freedom.
This joint parliamentary briefing, compiled by FLEX and seven other organisations with expertise on immigration detention and/or human trafficking, outlines the new regulations the government has introduced that downgrade protections afforded to potential victims of trafficking held in immigration detention, expressing concerns about the changes and calling on MPs to show their opposition and sign Early Day Motion 1696, tabled by Sir Keir Starmer MP and others, which seeks to annul the regulations.
This report is the first of three working papers exploring the experiences and drivers of labour abuse and exploitation in three understudied low-paid sectors of the economy: cleaning, hospitality and the app-based courier sector. It provides unique evidence of labour abuses and risks faced by workers in cleaning, including pay violations and dangerous working conditions, lack of access to social security such as sick pay, and experiences of sexual harassment. It also introduces FLEX's use of a new participatory methodology, which involves workers at every stage of the research process, from design to data collection and analysis.
Together with Anti-Slavery International (ASI), Doughty Street Chambers and Hope for Justice, FLEX and The Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group compiled a letter to ministers urging them to revoke a new policy that will make rough sleeping grounds for removal from the UK. We brought together a coalition of 150 charities, trade unions, lawyers and local authorities, to warn that these new rules will have severe consequences for victims of modern slavery – and will put the wider homeless population at significant risk of exploitation.
Together with the Scottish Government and JustRight Scotland, Fife Migrants Forum (FMF) and Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) have published new guidance for seasonal migrants workers coming to Scotland to work in the soft fruit sector. This guidance is available for two types of migrant workers, those arriving in Scotland on the Seasonal Worker Visa and those who are from the European Economic Area and have the right to free movement. This guidance is translated into the following languages: Bulgarian, Romanian, Ukrainian & Russian.
The guidance covers core areas related to work and life in the UK, including: employment terms and conditions, changing employer, pay and overtime, accommodation, health and safety and healthcare including specific measures during the Coronavirus pandemic, it also outlines indicators of human trafficking and provides a range of contacts in case support is needed whilst in Scotland.
GUIDANCE UPDATED MAY 2021
- Guidance - Seasonal migrant workers - EnglishEEA - May 2021
- Guidance - Seasonal migrant workers - EnglishSWP - May 2021
- Guidance - Seasonal migrant workers - Bulgarian - May 2021
- Guidance - Seasonal migrant workers - Russian - May 2021
- Guidance - Seasonal migrant workers - Ukrainian - May 2021
- Guidance - Seasonal migrant workers - Romanian - May 2021
Our submission to this call for evidence draws attention to how the activities of Immigration Enforcement undermine (i) their own stated operational priority to tackle modern slavery crimes and (ii) the national Modern Slavery Strategy's four pillars of pursue, prevent, protect and prepare.
FLEX hosted an online event to explore 'modern slavery' in the media and how communication on the topic helps or hinders progress. Find it online here.
Following a court order in which the Home Office agreed to review its policy on the immigration detention of human trafficking victims, FLEX and the Taskforce on Victims of Trafficking in Immigration Detention have submitted this letter to the Secretary of State for the Home Department highlighting the main gaps in the current policies and providing recommendations for their improvement.
This briefing examines the impact of the pandemic on labour exploitation. It finds it will raise the risk of exploitation for specific categories of workers who were already made more vulnerable to abuse by migration and social protection policies. FLEX provides clear recommendations to protect these workers and ensure modern slavery offences do not rise as a result of the virus.
Our briefing on the forthcoming second reading of the 2020 Immigration Bill explains key issues with its content and important gaps, and provides clear recommendations for parliamentarians to ensure the provisions do not exacerbate modern slavery offences.
This report explores the barriers documented and undocumented migrants face reporting workplace abuse and exploitation to the police and labour inspectors in the UK. It introduces a detailed framework to analyse how information about peoples’ immigration status becomes available to the Home Office following workers’ interaction with police and labour market enforcement agencies. It builds on international examples to provide practical recommendations to government, police and labour market enforcement agencies on introducing and strengthening secure reporting systems to identify and prevent labour exploitation.
This executive summary compiles the main findings from the report "Opportunity Knocks: improving responses to labour exploitation with secure reporting". It explores the barriers documented and undocumented migrants face reporting workplace abuse and exploitation to the police and labour inspectors in the UK. It analyses how information about peoples’ immigration status becomes available to the Home Office following workers’ interaction with police and labour market enforcement agencies, providing practical recommendations for the introduction and strengthening of secure reporting systems to identify and prevent labour exploitation.
This scoping research explores ‘worker-driven social responsibility’ (WSR) as a tool for ensuring decent work in supply chains. WSR is an exciting new model for tackling labour abuse in supply chains that has demonstrably improved working conditions in a range of contexts. It is similar to collective bargaining in that it involves a group of workers jointly negotiating their rights, with the difference that it targets companies at the top of supply chains instead of direct employers. The report discusses why new models for addressing labour abuse in supply chains are needed and whether the WSR model could be suitable to the UK, especially to sectors where outsourcing is common.
On 25 March 2020 FLEX and the US-based Worker-Driven Social Responsibility Network organised a webinar to explore Worker-Driven Social Responsibility, or 'WSR', as a tool for tackling labour abuse in supply chains. This is a recording of that webinar.
WSR is an exciting new model for tackling labour abuse in supply chains that has demonstrably improved working conditions in a range of contexts. It is similar to collective bargaining in that it involves a group of workers jointly negotiating their rights, with the difference that it targets companies at the top of supply chains instead of direct employers.
FLEX provided evidence to this submission, which was coordinated by the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group (ATMG). It provides a response to the third evaluation round of the questionnaire for the evaluation of the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings in the United Kingdom, which focuses on access to justice and effective remedies for survivors of trafficking in human beings.
FLEX has provided this submission to influence the selection of issues against which the UK will be reviewed under the ICCPR, which contains provisions against slavery and related practices.
FLEX has responded to the Director of Labour Market Enforcement's Call for Evidence: 2020/21 Strategy, providing detail on the nature and prevalence of labour abuses in construction and cleaning; highlighting concerns regarding the Seasonal Workers Pilot; and describing key themes for his consideration, including the linkage between immigration enforcement and labour inspection and under-resourcing of labour inspection.
FLEX is the co-chair of the Modern Slavery Strategy Implementation Group: Task and Finish Sub-Group on Prevention ('MSSIG Prevent'). This is a stakeholder body which advises government on prevention policy and activity. These minutes represent a record of discussions at the MSSIG Prevent's meeting on 27th January 2020 regarding the theme of immigration policy and its intersection with prevention work and aims.
FLEX is the co-chair of the Modern Slavery Strategy Implementation Group: Task and Finish Sub-Group on Prevention ('MSSIG Prevent'). This is a stakeholder body which advises government on prevention policy and activity. In its September member meeting, the MSSIG Prevent discussed the issue of exploitation of migrant domestic workers who enter the UK on the 'Overseas Domestic Workers' visa. Several members raised concerns about the perceived contradiction between this visa and the government's stated aims regarding the eradication of modern slavery. This statement lays out those concerns and it signed by several civil society members of this expert government stakeholder group.
For 2019's General Election, FLEX lays out nine key policies needed to tackle labour exploitation in this handy simple sheet.
FLEX submitted to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy regarding the proposed establishment of a single enforcement body.
This submission focuses on LEAG’s concerns around the new Single Enforcement Body’s proposal to work more closely with other enforcement bodies, more specifically immigration enforcement. It describes how fear of immigration consequences currently acts as a major barrier to reporting and seeking help when migrant workers face labour abuses and exploitation. This collaboration is seen to negatively affect labour inspectorate’s ability to support workers and identify employers in breach of employment law in the UK. It recommends that UK labour enforcement activities abide by article 3(2) of the International Labour Organisation Convention 81 and recommendation by the former Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, and protect the rights and interests of all workers, irrespective of immigration status.
FLEX is the co-chair of the Modern Slavery Strategy Implementation Group: Task and Finish Sub-Group on Prevention ('MSSIG Prevent'). This is a stakeholder body which advises government on prevention policy and activity. These minutes represent a record of discussions at the MSSIG Prevent's meeting on 11th September 2019. Also published here is the briefing prepared for the meeting by Kalayaan.
A joint response from Focus on Labour Exploitation and Latin American Women's Rights Service to the Government Equalities Office Consultation on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. The response highlights the importance of taking into account outsourced, agency and self-employed workers when introducing a preventative duty for employers on sexual harassment. It also emphasises the need for sexual harassment in the workplace to be addressed not as an isolated issue but in the broader context of labour abuse and exploitation of women at work.
FLEX is the co-chair of the Modern Slavery Strategy Implementation Group: Task and Finish Sub-Group on Prevention ('MSSIG Prevent'). This is a stakeholder body which advises government on prevention policy and activity. These minutes represent a record of discussions at the MSSIG Prevent's meeting on 13th June 2019.
This report draws on the frontline experiences of Labour Exploitation Advisory Group members, including Ashiana Sheffield, Latin American Women's Rights Service and Bail for Immigration Detainees, to explore why and how victims of trafficking are being detained under immigration powers in the UK. It makes strong recommendations to government and calls for an overhaul to the system enabling this to take place.
This briefing presents the findings of a project, led by University of Liverpool in partnership with FLEX and funded by the British Academy with the Department for International Development. The project assessed how transparency in supply chains for chocolate and clothes (please see separate garment briefing) can help to protect human rights, including children’s rights, and the wellbeing of workers in low and middle-income countries. This briefing examines the findings from research into the cocoa sector in Ghana and the Dominican Republic to provide key policy recommendations for businesses and governments.
This briefing presents the findings of a project, led by University of Liverpool in partnership with FLEX and funded by the British Academy with the Department for International Development. The project assessed how transparency in supply chains for chocolate (please see separate cocoa briefing) and clothes can help to protect human rights and the wellbeing of workers in low and middle-income countries. This briefing examines the findings from research into the garment sector in Bangladesh and Myanmar to provide key policy recommendations for businesses and governments on working conditions.
The 2018 Immigration White Paper described the Government's proposals for post-Brexit labour migration, including three temporary migration programmes. This report looks in-depth at such programmes and how they can exacerbate or relate to risks of labour abuse and exploitation, including human trafficking. Drawing on examples from around the world and UK history, it highlights the risks in such schemes and describes in detail the three proposed programmes. It provides strong recommendations to Government on how to design, implement and monitor such programmes to prevent abuse and exploitation.
This briefing is complementary to FLEX's report, The Risks of Exploitation in Temporary Migration Programmes: A FLEX response to the 2018 Immigration White Paper, also published in May 2019. It describes the three temporary migration programmes proposed by the Government in itds 2018 Immigration White Paper and the risks these pose of labour abuse and exploitation. It provides key recommendations for Government to ensure such schemes do not create or facilitate human trafficking for labour exploitation.
Government plans for two temporary migration programmes to bring workers to the UK after Brexit present significant risks of labour abuse and exploitation, including human trafficking.
This briefing describes the two proposed programmes, explains the risks presented by them and provides clear recommendations for government to protect workers and prevent a two-tiered labour market operating after Brexit in which temporary migrant workers are ill-treated.
Corporate human rights reporting is a commonly expected practice and is increasingly becoming a legal requirement for businesses. But is it working? This report, a joint publication from FLEX and the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, explores this crucial question. Providing an in-depth review of current modern slavery legislation around the world, it highlights commons gaps in existing laws and encourages a more risk and outcomes oriented approach to reporting in future. It concludes with clear recommendations for governments and companies to enhance modern slavery reporting in the future.
People who have experienced trafficking or modern slavery are considered ‘vulnerable’ under the Home Office’s ‘Adults at Risk’ policy. This submission describes the experiences of LEAG in supporting and advocating for victims of trafficking in detention and provides illustrative case studies of the experiences of members’ clients with the Home Office’s ‘Adults at Risk’ policy.
The UK Government recently announced a new two-year pilot scheme to bring temporary migrant workers from outside the EU to work in the UK agricultural sector. How the pilot scheme is structured will have significant implications for the level of risk faced by migrant workers, ranging from labour abuses like unpaid overtime to the severe exploitation found in cases of forced labour and human trafficking.
This policy briefing highlights the risks of the Government’s proposed new temporary migration programme for the agricultural and horticultural sectors and future schemes like it, and outlines steps required to prevent labour abuse and exploitation after Brexit.
The UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 currently does not require public agencies to submit a slavery and human trafficking statement and the UK Government does not legally exclude companies with a history of serious labour rights abuses from public tenders. This briefing provides recommendations to the UK Government on implementing a public procument legislation that show leadership on modern slavery prevention and look to international good practice examples when determining the steps to ensure that workers in public supply chains are not exploited.
The UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 introduced the Transparency in Supply Chains (TISC) provision that requires companies with an annual turnover of £36 million or more to produce an annual Modern Slavery Statement. Based on FLEX's consultation with workers, academics, company representatives and experts in Bangladesh and UK, this briefing outlines the core components of effective transparency in supply chains legislation.
This submission describes the experiences of FLEX and LEAG with the Home Office’s activities to tackle illegal working and provides illustrative case studies from FLEX and LEAG’s work with potential and actual victims of human trafficking for labour exploitation.
In this submission to the Australian Senate's Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, the Advisory Committee of the Modern Slavery Registry recommends that the Modern Slavery Bill 2018 be strengthened with a public list of reporting entities, procurement incentives, a requirement for companies to describe how they identify risks, and phased-in penalties for non-compliance. FLEX has joined other members of the Advisory Committee (Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Humanity United, Freedom Fund, Anti-Slavery International, Trades Union Congress, Ethical Trading Initiative, Unicef UK, Freedom United, CORE Coalition and Principles of Responsible Investment (PRI)) in calling for these reforms based on our learning from the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 and its implementation.
This report examines transparency in supply chains legislation and draws on case studies from the UK and Bangladesh. It asks how governments can make transparency in supply chains legislation effective, but also how we can move beyond transparency towards worker-centred corporate accountability to prevent human trafficking for labour exploitation.
This action plan sets out steps for governments to ensure that the interests of workers are central to efforts to tackle human trafficking and forced labour in global supply chains. The blueprint is the result of in-depth engagement with trade unions, businesses, academics and civil society.
This FLEX guide to researching labour exploitation sets out our approach to research with hard-to-reach migrant workers. In this guide, FLEX draws on insights from academic literature and experts in methodological approaches to engaging hard-to- reach groups in research. We discuss the advantages and challenges of the migrant community model and introduce practical tools developed for migrant community research. The guide is based on a FLEX pilot and we hope it can be a support to migrant and community organisations, trade unions and others engaging in similar projects.
In this submission FLEX draws upon its research and expertise on labour abuse and exploitation of agency workers. FLEX has conducted research on labour exploitation in high-risk sectors of the UK labour market including construction, bakeries and fisheries and has produced a guide to tackling exploitation in the UK labour market.
In this submission FLEX draws upon its research and expertise on labour abuse and exploitation of agency workers. FLEX has conducted research on labour exploitation in high-risk sectors of the UK labour market including construction, bakeries and fisheries and has produced a guide to tackling exploitation in the UK labour market.
This submission is in response to Section A, Questions 2-5, of the inquiry.
This submission focuses on gendered aspects of labour abuse and exploitation by drawing on discussions and case studies from the Labour Exploitation Advisory Group (LEAG) and the LEAG Working Group on Women Workers on four highly feminised sectors: care, cleaning, hospitality and domestic work.
This report draws on interviews and surveys with migrant construction workers in London to examine the causes of labour abuses that can lead to exploitation in the construction sector.
This submission sets the backdrop to modern slavery in the UK and the official response, it outlines the UK’s international commitments to tackle modern slavery in general and labour exploitation in particular. It examines the threat to the aims of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and the UK’s commitment to tackle modern slavery posed by deregulation, including: cuts to resources for UK labour inspectorates; curtailment of labour inspectors’ powers to proactively identify cases of labour abuse and exploitation; and reductions to regulations protecting workers from threats to their labour rights such as accident recording and employment tribunals’ wider recommendation making powers.
This guide presents a five-point plan to combat exploitation of women workers in feminised labour sectors. It outlines specific workplace risks and types of gender-related abuse that can put women workers at risk of exploitation, and sets out practical steps labour market enforcement agencies can take to build amore targeted, gender-aware responses to abuse and exploitation of women in the workplace.
This briefing outlines the potential detrimental impact of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill 2017-19 on the UK’s efforts to prevent human trafficking and modern slavery, and the changes to the Bill that could prevent this.
A significant proportion of workers’ rights in the UK come from the EU. The Withdrawal Bill leaves these rights vulnerable to being changed or weakened post-Brexit, without proper parliamentary scrutiny. The watering down of employment rights increases workers’ vulnerability to labour exploitation, including forced labour, slavery or servitude. FLEX supports Amendment 21 to the Bill, which would ensure that changes to employment standards that come from the EU can only be made if they do not reduce or weaken these rights and protections.
In this submission, FLEX provides evidence for two of the five questions put forward by the Public Accounts Committee as part of this inquiry. These are: (i) what is the quality and suitability of government support provided to identified victims of modern slavery? (ii) How successful has the 2014 Modern Slavery Strategy been so far in tackling modern slavery? (iii) How effective is the governance system that government has put in place for tackling modern slavery?
In this submission, drawing from a 2017 inspection report from the UK Independent Chief Inspector of Borders, FLEX notes the difficulties associated with identifying potential victims of trafficking at border crossings. Recognising these challenges, FLEX emphasises the crucial importance of labour inspections in reducing vulnerability to exploitation and identifying potential victims of trafficking, particularly in sectors where the use of recruitment agencies/labour providers is high. FLEX therefore highlights the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority’s (GLAA’s) licensing and inspection scheme for labour providers as an example of good practice for Member States.
FLEX submission to the Migration Advisory Committee’s Commission to advise on the economic and social impacts of the UK’s exit from the European Union. This submission outlines the increased risks of exploitation facing EEA workers post-Brexit, and addresses the likely introduction of a temporary migration scheme to address labour shortages post-Brexit and the risks of exploitation that may arise in such schemes.
This briefing outlines key drivers of labour exploitation in the construction sector in London and sets out interventions to tackle the problem.
This report sets out FLEX's action plan for a UK response to exploitation in the labour market. It starts by identifying the picture of risk to individuals of exploitation in the UK labour market, then presents solutions to such exploitation through: labour inspection and enforcement; gateways to advice and remedy; and corporate accountability. In so doing the report provides a comprehensive guide to an effective response to human trafficking for labour exploitation in the UK.
In this submission, FLEX urges the Australian government to take this opportunity to learn from and build upon the experience of the UK Modern Slavery Act reporting requirements, and to view with clarity the specific role and the limitations of that legislation.
FLEX intervention to the second informal interactive multi-stakeholder hearing on the preparatory process for the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the Intergovernmental Conference on International Migration.
FLEX Statement to the Fifth Thematic Consultation on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration: “Smuggling of migrants, trafficking in persons and contemporary forms of slavery, including appropriate identification, protection and assistance to migrants and trafficking victims”.
FLEX response to the Mayor of London's consultation on his Good Work Standard.
This paper explores the impact of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union (Brexit) on workers’ vulnerability to labour exploitation. Combining desk-based research and interviews with members of the Labour Exploitation Advisory Group (LEAG), this paper sets out how migrant worker vulnerability to exploitation has been affected by the UK referendum vote to leave the European Union. It looks both at the immediate impact of that decision and considers the key risk areas for the future as the UK transitions out of the EU.
This updated Guide recognises that access to legal remedies for victims of human trafficking is about more than compensation, and that access to justice relies on access to legal assistance and support. The aim of the Guide is to provide practical information that can assist service providers in informing victims about their legal options and directing them towards legal advice.
Labour abuses over time can take a huge toll and leave workers vulnerable to situations of severe exploitation. This short animation builds awareness of the reasons why people fall into exploitation and shows the solutions FLEX seeks to end exploitation.
FLEX response to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia
FLEX responses to the United National Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery consultation questionnaire on access to justice and remedy.
A joint General Election briefing on modern slavery, corporate governance, corporate crime and trade from CORE, FLEX, Amnesty International UK, Anti-Slavery International and Traidcraft.
This policy paper presents research findings and policy recommendations for EU policy makers on three key issues: the need for sustainable support and access to accommodation for victims of trafficking for labour exploitation; the increasing conflation of labour inspection and immigration control and the need for more proactive and victim-centred identification efforts; and the lack of access to legal remedies for victims of trafficking for labour exploitation. The paper was developed as part of the Pro-active Identification and Support of Victims of Trafficking for Labour Exploitation in the EU (Pro-Act) Project.
This policy paper addresses the issue of access to compensation for victims of trafficking for labour exploitation in the UK. It identifies 4 key barriers to victims’ access to compensation in the UK, and proposes a set of recommendations to ensure all victims of human trafficking can obtain redress for the abuses committed against them.
FLEX research into identification and support of victims of human trafficking in the UK has revealed the critical need for better information and support for potential victims of trafficking who enter the UK National Referral Mechanism – the UK’s official framework for identifying and supporting victims of trafficking. This short film, Support Without Recovery: the UK anti-trafficking response, gives an insight into the fear and uncertainty faced by those who have to wait for months to be recognized as victims of trafficking, with little or no support to help them move on with their lives
In this position paper the Labour Exploitation Advisory Group explores the link between labour abuses and exploitation, outlining the factors which in their experience cause or allow labour abuses to develop into more extreme exploitation. The paper makes recommendations for measures to address abuses across the spectrum and thereby prevent the development of exploitation.
Labour Exploitation Advisory Group (LEAG) Guidance: understanding victim perspectives in identifying and reporting cases of labour exploitation. This guidance provides a summary of some of the key issues statutory agencies and frontline professionals should be aware of when encountering and supporting victims of labour exploitation.
An illustrated guide to legal rights and options for victims of human trafficking in the UK.
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Access to compensation can play an important role in the recovery of survivors of human trafficking. Compensation awards can help victims move on with their lives and reduce their risk of further exploitation. This paper considers the ability of victims of human trafficking and other forms of modern slavery to access compensation, one year on from the enactment of the Modern Slavery Act. The findings of this research indicate that little has changed for victims seeking justice who are still facing significant legal and practical barriers to obtaining compensation for the abuses committed against them.
This report reviews the UK pilot implementation of the Pro-Act Project strategies for pro-active identification and support for victims of trafficking for labour exploitation, and sets out reflections and recommendations for change based on the outcomes of the project's pilot phase.
An illustrated guide to support entitlements in the UK National Referral Mechanism for victims of human trafficking.
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This briefing was provided to inform the work of the London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) on protecting people who are vulnerable to crime. It sets out some of the main factors influencing vulnerability to human trafficking and labour exploitation. FLEX hopes this will influency strategy on tackling human trafficking in London as the Mayor develops plans and policy for 2016-2020.
Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) has joined leading charities to publish guidance on best practice in addressing modern slavery in corporate activities. The guidance sets out steps companies could take towards eradicating labour exploitation from their supply chains. It has been produced by leading NGOs in this sector including the CORE Coalition, FLEX, CAFOD and Amnesty International.
Since the inclusion of company reporting requirements in the UK Modern Slavery Act last year, this has become a hot topic for businesses and NGOs alike. This guidance provides a roadmap for businesses that truly want to take meaningful action in this area.
The Pro-Act Project maps how identification and support systems are working in the three partner countries, and draws on this mapping to develop and pilot effective victim-centred strategies for improvement across the EU. This report analyses findings on identification and support from the UK, the Netherlands and Romania and sets out recommendations for change. These recommendations provide the basis for a set of EU- wide strategies to improve the pro-active identification and support of persons trafficked for labour exploitation.
This briefing covers three key areas relating to Part One of the Immigration Bill
1. The Director of Labour Market Enforcement
2. The Offence of Illegal Working
3. New Government amendments in response to the Consultation - ‘Tackling Exploitation in the Labour Market’
FLEX believes that labour inspection and enforcement is key to preventing modern slavery. Whilst FLEX supports the establishment of a Director of Labour Market Enforcement to coordinate labour inspection efforts, the central role of the UK labour inspectorates in preventing exploitation risks being undermined by a politically motivated Director who lacks a clear mandate. The victims of modern slavery with whom FLEX works express deep fear and distrust of authorities as well as a real concern for immigration repercussions should they come forward. The Clause 8 Offence of Illegal Working will exacerbate such fears and play in to the hands of traffickers who seek to exploit and coerce vulnerable individuals in to exploitation. Finally the Gangmasters’ Licensing Authority is recognised as a best practice model worldwide. The Government is now proposing reducing its licensing role by introducing ‘flexibility’ in licensing despite just 19% of respondents to a recent Government consultation on labour exploitation supporting such moves. Further amendments requiring the GLA to carry out its functions in accordance with the Director’s strategy mean that its role as a Non-Departmental Public Body and the expertise it has developed as an independent authority is severely threatened.
This Memorandum was submitted to the UK Parliament Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee setting out FLEX's concerns with respect to amendments tabled by the Government to the Immigration Bill at Committee Stage in the House of Lords which significantly amend existing powers of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA). FLEX is concerned that Government Amendment 77 paragraph 21 will be used to make changes to GLA licence standards without adequate transparency and scrutiny. Our fear is that unless Parliament is engaged in the shaping of licence standards then changes could be made without a clear evidential basis and without proper and full consultation of all stakeholders with expertise in labour sector licensing requirements.
In this document FLEX responds the the Government's consultation on tackling exploitation in the labour market. This consultation proposes an expanded role for key UK labour inspection agencies, proposing extra powers of criminal investigation for the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) and for labour inspection priorities to alter according to an annual strategy proposed by a new Director of Labour Market Enforcement. The consultation also proposes a shift away from licensing towards voluntary schemes. In this response, FLEX warns that threats to the GLA licensing and license monitoring functions should be resisted and that increasing criminal powers of the GLA could distract from these core licensing and monitoring functions. FLEX notes that the UK has one of the weakest labour inspectorates in Europe and is proposing weakening it further through by asking it to do more with less resources.
As a coalition of business representatives, trade unions and NGOs, we welcome the government’s commitment to tackling labour market exploitation.In advance of discussions by the House of Lords on the Committee Stage of the Immigration Bill on 18 January, we set out a number of points on Part 1: Labour Market Enforcement:
1. Reforms of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) licensing regime should not weaken GLA licensing standards or reduce application and compliance inspections that protect vulnerable workers;
2. An expanded role for the GLA should be matched by additional resources;
3. The Director of Labour Market Enforcement set out in the Bill must be required to engage with key stakeholders.
This briefing is a joint publication from: The Association of Labour Providers; the British Retail Consortium; The Ethical Trading Initiative; Focus on Labour Exploitation; The Institute for Human Rights and Business; and The Trade Union Congress.
This latest FLEX Parliamentary Briefing on the Immigration Bill looks at Part One of the Bill and seeks improvements to ensure that the proposed Director of Labour Market Enforcement acts in the interests of those most vulnerable to labour exploitation. Further FLEX advocates the removal of the 'offence of illegal working' from the Immigration Bill on the grounds that it will be used by unscrupulous employers to control vulnerable migrant workers but also that it will prevent the identification of trafficking as victims will be unwilling to come forward for fear of immigration repercussions. This briefing also touches upon the Government's ongoing consultation on 'Labour Market Exploitation: Improving Enforcement' that closes on 7th December 2015.
This is FLEX's analysis of the UK Department for Business Innovation and Skills and Home Office ongoing consultation on Tackling Exploitation in the Labour Market that closes on 7th December 2015. FLEX sets out core questions about the consultation approach and direction of travel for labour inspection in the UK. We also question the use of the term 'organised labour market exploitation' in the document that we believe is poorly defined and founded on limited understanding of the drivers of labour exploitation in the UK today.
This Policy Blueprint sets out a framework for labour inspection to combat trafficking for labour exploitation in the UK. It highlights ways in which labour inspection can succeed in preventing modern slavery from taking place as well as how it can help victims of severe exploitation to exit such situations. It argues that only with victim-centred labour inspection and enforcement will the UK stand a chance of meeting its international commitments to prevent modern slavery.
FLEX’s Committee Stage Parliamentary Briefing on the Immigration Bill calls for amendments to be made in the following areas: to ensure the Director of Labour Market Enforcement has the protection of workers as their primary purpose; to establish a means of formal engagement between any Director and civil society; for the ‘labour market enforcement strategy’ to make an assessment of obstacles to effective labour market enforcement; to provide that the Director makes an assessment of the resources required for effective labour market enforcement, rather than to determine how available resources should be allocated; to ensure that the Strategy does not divert labour inspection agencies from existing work; to ensure that the annual report of the Director makes an assessment of labour abuses faced by workers and remedies received; and to remove the offence of illegal working from the Bill. Joint opposition amendments were made in all these areas at Committee stage on 27th October.
This submission sets out key legal definitions of relevance in considering the role of the Director of Labour Market Enforcement set out in Part One of the UK Immigration Bill. It also sets out key laws and regulations of relevance to modern slavery indicators to be considered within the remit of the Director. Finally it argues that victims of modern slavery will be made more vulnerable to exploitation by the Immigration Bill proposed Clause 8 ‘offence of illegal working’.
Policy Director Caroline Robinson gave evidence to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee on the Immigration Bill on 20 October 2015 on proposals for a new 'Director of labour market enforcement' to address exploitation in the UK. This evidence covers: The need for a firewall between immigration control and labour inspection; The importance of labour inspection to enforce labour standards and the absence of labour inspection in the UK; The threat to trafficked persons posed by a proposed 'illegal working offence' in the Immigration Bill; and How effective labour inspection to address exploitation must have the protection of workers and labour rights at its core.
The focus of this article is on advocacy opportunities provided by the anti-trafficking framework in a new political climate. Through the case study of the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 deliberations the article explores opportunities to use political interest in human trafficking to advocate labour rights and protections for vulnerable workers. The article explores how, largely cynical, political motivations for the debate on ‘modern slavery’ in the UK, provided an opportunity to reframe the anti-trafficking discourse in this context.
This article sets out how despite the first elements of the government’s Modern Slavery Act become law in July, good work in this area risks being undone by a hard line and ultimately counterproductive immigration policy. It highlights how policies and practices putting immigration control above all else will result in increased forced labour and modern-day slavery in the UK.
This article considers the changes coming into force under the Modern Slavery Act, and discusses the work to be done to ensure that these new measures strengthen the protection of victims’ rights and prevent the exploitation of vulnerable workers.
In this working paper FLEX sets out the main findings from national research by FLEX in the UK, FairWork in the Netherlands and ADPARE in Romania as part of the Pro-Act Project on pro-active identification and support to victims of trafficking for labour exploitation. These findings provide the basis for the development of strategies to improve the pro-active identification and support to persons trafficked for labour exploitation, which will be piloted over six months in each of the partner countries. The Pro-Act Project is co-funded by the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme of the European Union. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
In March 2015 the Modern Slavery Act 2015 received Royal Assent, but what difference does the law really make for actual and potential victims of severe exploitation? Of course this largely remains to be seen, but there are some areas in which the new law has potential to improve the situation of exploited workers. Whilst the Act shows progress in the UK’s approach to forced labour, slavery and human trafficking, it is far too heavily weighted towards prosecution, rather than prevention and protection, and effective responses have been thwarted by immigration concerns.
The modern slavery act is seen as a righteous cause for many UK decision makers, however victims of exploitation do not share the simplistic moral narrative, seeking practical solutions not benevolence. In ongoing research Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) is conducting with partners in Romania and the Netherlands, we are speaking to trafficked persons, service providers and government agencies about identification and support in cases of trafficking for labour exploitation. The picture emerging shows a need for practical solutions, not benevolence.
Prevention is considered the foundation of any anti-trafficking response yet UK efforts to prevent trafficking to date have been patchy and prevention work has largely been left to the poorly resourced Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA). This paper sets out a roadmap for prevention for the UK including four measures that would improve prevention, including improved labour standard monitoring, the enforcement of employment law and ensuring that immigration responses do not contribute to trafficking for labour exploitation.
Access to justice for trafficked persons is fundamental to a rights-based response to human trafficking or ‘modern day slavery’. The ability of victims to access legal remedies promotes their rehabilitation, prevents re-trafficking and contributes to the punishment of traffickers. Yet around the world weak laws and a lack of political commitment to victims’ rights means that justice is rarely a reality for victims. This paper sets out five steps the UK can take to improve access to justice for trafficked persons.
FLEX Parliamentary Briefing including recommendations for the UK Modern Slavery Bill at Lords Report Stage in the Houses of Parliament. This briefing calls for the Gangmasters’ Licensing Authority (GLA) and Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate to have their resources increased in order that they might conduct pro-active labour inspection to prevent trafficking for labour exploitation. The briefing called for the GLA to have its remit extended to all ‘high-risk’ labour sectors in order to ensure its licensing standards cover all vulnerable workers.
As politicians of all parties declare their support for ending slavery in the UK, there is a unique opportunity to put in place measures that would ensure no worker ends up in exploitation. But this opportunity will be missed if our leaders continue to talk tough on modern slavery without recognising that labour protections for all workers are the first line of defence in this fight. Our job is to make the argument that protections are most useful before someone becomes a victim and therefore should be applied to all workers regardless of migrant status.
This briefing raises concerns that the Modern Slavery Bill is narrowly focused on criminal justice issues, with minimal provision for prevention and the protection of victims. It highlights how, without prevention and protection, the two core planks of the ‘three Ps’ response, efforts to eradicate modern day slavery will fail. The briefing calls for measures to prevent trafficking and forced labour abuses by providing for a strong labour inspection system as a first line of defence against labour exploitation. It also highlights the need to protect victims by adopting a broader approach to justice that extends beyond prosecutions and prioritises protection for victims.
FLEX responds, following publication of the Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill comprehensive analysis of the draft Bill. The Committee's report provides a strong basis for amendment of the Bill, to pull its focus back to the victims it seeks to protect and to the exploitation it seeks to prevent.
In August 2013 the UK Home Secretary declared modern slavery a personal priority and a draft Modern Day Slavery bill was hastily published by December, outlining the government's blue-print for the UK's approach to ending human trafficking. FLEX support strong efforts to tackle this crime. However, too often politicians and activists eager to abolish 'modern day slavery' demonstrate a desire to 'unchain' or save victims from their enslavement, that focuses on the end point, rather than the beginning of the trafficking process. A more victim-centred response adopts lower-profile but more effective steps to prevent victims from being enslaved in the first place.
The UN Human Trafficking Protocol (2003) sets out the ‘three P’ approach to trafficking, which establishes prevention, protection and prosecution as central to efforts to combat human trafficking. Effective labour inspection and regulation is key to the prevention of trafficking for labour exploitation. Strong human rights standards for victim assistance and support should inform statutory protection of trafficked persons. Finally, effective oversight, through a truly independent, expert anti-slavery commissioner, ensures that anti- trafficking responses are meeting their stated aims.
Instead of offering legal clarification, the bill offers confused definitions, a blinkered focus on prosecution and an anti-slavery commissioner whose resources and activities would be controlled by the home secretary. Far from a credible attempt to address a complex problem, the bill in its current form is more concerned with what the UK is seen to be doing than the real impact of our actions.
This submission responds to questions set by the Modern Slavery Bill Evidence Review committee led by Frank Field MP. FLEX gave written and oral evidence to the committee highlighting the need for strong prevention measures to be included in the Modern Slavery Bill.