FRA report on the criminal labour exploitation of workers moving within or migrating to the EU

On 2 June 2015, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) will publish the findings of its research into the criminal labour exploitation of workers moving within or migrating to the EU. The report is the first to comprehensively explore all criminal forms of labour exploitation in the EU of workers moving within or into the EU, and shows that despite legislation banning the practice, labour exploitation is widespread in the EU.

The report suggests that EU Member States should take a zero tolerance attitude by measures such as sanctioning companies that exploit workers and considering a system of certification allowing consumers to identify products and services that have not involved any form of labour exploitation.

Field research for the report was carried out in 21 EU countries, while research into the legal and institutional framework of severe labour exploitation was conducted in all 28 Member States. FRA conducted a total of 616 expert interviews and 24 focus group discussions with professionals in the field of labour exploitation, including labour inspectorates, the police, judges, national policy experts, and recruitment agency staff.

Some key findings from the expert interviews:

•  Severe labour exploitation is pervasive in a number of sectors, including agriculture, construction, the hotel and catering industry, domestic work, and manufacturing.

•  A lack of workplace inspections and monitoring of working conditions, coupled with ineffective investigations, lead to a situation of widespread impunity: offenders are at little risk of prosecution, punishment or the necessity of having to compensate exploited workers, a situation exacerbated by underreporting.

•  The main reasons for victims not to report exploitation are a fear of deportation, a lack of rights awareness, and fear of retaliation against themselves or family members.

•  The majority of consumers are not aware that products they buy or use may be the result of labour exploitation as there is no system of binding standards or clear branding.

The report, together with the press release and other information material, can be found in the press pack, which is available on the FRA website.