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Clampdown on Human Trafficking and ‘Modern Day Slavery’ as Rogue Employers Face Life Imprisonment

Published 25 November 2015

A crackdown on rogue employers could see them jailed for life for trafficking and exploiting vulnerable workers.

It is a criminal offence to hold a person in slavery or servitude to perform forced labour.

In order for labour to be considered forced there must be some level of pressure applied or dishonesty which goes beyond the ordinary.

In recent years there has been an increase in this type of offence, which includes victims being enticed to the country to be exploited.

Prisoner

Rogue employers can face up to life in prison.

Photo by adzicnatasa | Fotolia

The Modern Slavery Act has increased the maximum jail term for the most serious offenders from 14 years to life. The legislation protects migrant workers who are not aware of their employment rights.

Many employees grumble that they are paid poorly, work long hours and have no choice but to do the job, but this is not an offence as there is no coercion or deception on the part of the employer.

Employers who comply with their obligations under employment law will not be affected, as workers are protected by the Working Time Regulations and minimum wage legislation.

There has been widespread publicity surrounding cases of adults forced to work in the sex trade, labour exploitation and domestic servitude. Earlier this year a hotel owner who trafficked workers from Bangladesh and forced them into ‘modern day slavery’ was jailed for three years.

The National Crime Agency has previously realised figures which showed people from Poland were the most likely victims of labour exploitation – forced to work in agriculture, construction, factories and car washes.

In accordance with The Modern Slavery Act 2015 (section 54) - introduced on 29 October 2015 - commercial organisations with a turnover of £36m and above will be required to publish an annual anti-slavery and human trafficking statement.

The document should cover policies, training, due diligence processes and the effectiveness of measures taken to combat modern slavery and trafficking and detail the steps taken to ensure it is not happening in the supply chain or any part of the business.

Organisations must highlight the statement on the homepage of their website with a link to it, and if they do not have a website a copy of the statement must be provided within 30 days of receiving a request to see it.

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