Employment is Freely Chosen

Issues

Why tackle the issue?

Forced labour is when a person is working under the threat of penalty and is not free to leave their job. This can be a perceived penalty or an actual one.

Bonded labour is when a person is forced to work, for a minimal wage or for no wage at all, to pay off a debt which the worker or his/her family is supposed to owe to the employer. In this situation the terms of the loans, made by employers, tie the worker to the employment.

People trafficking is the illegal and/or involuntary transportation of people.

The business case and what can go wrong:

Forced labour, bonded labour and people trafficking are all forms of modern-day slavery. With the increase in the numbers of migrant workers arriving in the UK, farmers and small business owners can unknowingly be caught up in these illegal practices and in so doing be putting their businesses at risk.
No farmer, grower or business owner would knowingly allow this type of practice. However, it is important that you follow the steps below to make sure that you are not unwittingly using forced or bonded labour in your operations, and can prove it.

Click here for a case study. Opens in a popup window.

 

 

Case Study:

Bonded labour of UK agency workers


Agency workers from Eastern Europe were working on a farm in the UK. During interviews with workers it became clear that these workers had been introduced to theagency by a ‘middle man’. Workers had paid the ‘middle man’ £150 in their home country and were forced to pay an additional £300 when they arrived in the UK as anintroduction fee and accommodation deposit.

For those who did not have the money, the money was ‘loaned’ to them and deductions taken every week from their salary to repay the loan. These middle men purposely recruited people who had very poor levels of English so they would be less able to question their conditions when they got to the UK. The middle men continued to manage and organise these workers on a daily basis. They told the workers that they were not entitled to their own bank accounts and that they had to state his bank account details as their bank account. As a result, all wages were paid into his bank account and payslips sent to him.

Each week he would pay the workers in cash but would take 50p for every hour worked. In addition to this, he would keep back monies to repay ‘loans’ and cover rent.After these deductions were taken, most workers only received £25 for a 30 hour week. This meant they often did not earn enough money to live let alone save anything.

To address this situation, workers were moved into safe accommodation found by the supplier and the supplier arranged for each worker to be set out with their ownbank account into which their wages were paid. Payslips were distributed in the workplace so workers knew what money they had earned. The agency stopped dealingwith the middle man and started to communicate with each worker directly to organise their work.

In addition to this, the supplier made sure they carried out their own ID checks and checked with workers on how they had been recruited and how they are paid. Theagency has completely revised its procedures on bank accounts and contacting workers to ensure this situation does not arise again.

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