Policy recommendations developed to tackle labour trafficking and exploitation

Published 16.9.2020  Updated 18.9.2020

In recent years, cases of labour trafficking and exploitation have been uncovered around the world, as well as in Europe in sectors such as construction, restaurants, cleaning and agriculture. Outsourcing of work or services through subcontractors/suppliers or use of temporary workers in flexible employment relationships heighten the risk of labour exploitation. The working conditions in lengthy subcontracting chains might be difficult for companies to uncover. Everything may seem legal on paper but in reality, exploited migrant workers might work long hours in poor conditions, which are below national standards, and they have little or no possibility to change their situation. To protect the rights of migrant workers both businesses and law enforcement and inspection authorities have the responsibility to address the risk of labour trafficking and exploitation and ensure exploited workers have access to remedy.

The two brand new policy briefs developed in the EU-funded FLOW-project by the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control (HEUNI) and partners outline key recommendations that would enhance capacity of businesses and authorities to detect, investigate and prevent labour exploitation.

The “New tools for businesses to improve commitment to end labour exploitation and trafficking in local labour supply chains" policy brief outlines how challenges businesses face navigating complex supply chains can be solved and describes the multiple ways how various companies may be affected by labour exploitation. Besides key standards and legislation that dictate activities regarding social responsibility and human rights the policy brief outlines concrete tools business representatives can use to take preventative steps.

These measures include conducting a risk assessment, drafting an anti-trafficking strategy, screening contractual partners, incorporating specific contractual clauses and organising workplace assessments to prevent and address the risks of labour exploitation and trafficking.

The “How to uncover labour trafficking and exploitation? The route to a successful investigation" policy brief focuses on what challenges law enforcement faces when investigating labour exploitation offences and provides solutions to address the existing gaps. Set of key recommendations includes such steps as enhancing multidisciplinary cooperation and developing adequate structures to support such cooperation, establishing specialised trafficking units within the police and implementing targeted, multi-agency inspections in risk sectors. Overall, it is of utmost importance for authorities to ensure a victim-centered and victim sensitive approach in their work.

Both policy briefs are accompanied with infographs summarizing the project findings.

The FLOW project continues till the end of 2020 and we strongly encourage interested professionals to reach out and get access to extra materials and get training on the topic.

For more information, please contact: Researcher Anni Lietonen, HEUNI, tel. +358 50 411 67 (e-mail anni.lietonen@om.fi), Senior Programme Officer Anniina Jokinen, tel. +358 50 351 7044 (anniina.jokinen@om.fi) or for country details contact atanas.rusev@csd.bg (Bulgaria), anna.markina@ut.ee (Estonia), and lasma.stabina@iem.gov.lv (Latvia).

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