Labour exploitation

Unfortunately there are people that are forced to work long hours for little or no pay, in poor conditions under verbal or physical threats of violence to them or their families. 

It can occur in various industries including construction, manufacturing, car washes, laying driveways, hospitality, food packaging, agriculture, maritime and beauty (nail bars). Work conditions are usually poor i.e. not provided with protective clothing and the area of work being unsafe.

Control mechanisms are used to keep workers from leaving for example, withholding important documents or debt bondage- this is where a person is forced to work to pay off a debt or loan which cannot be paid off, because the wages are so low or because unreasonable deductions are made.

It is also worth noting that victims are usually housed together in one dwelling, whether that be residential housing or work related accommodation.

Know the signs

  • Withholding of wages or excessive wage reductions
  • Pay that is less than minimum wage
  • Restriction of movement or confinement
  • Imposed place of accommodation (and deductions made for it)
  • Requirement to pay for tools and food
  • Seem under control, told not to speak to others
  • Picked up in a van, same time same place every day
  • Excessive work hours/few breaks
  • Withholding of documents e.g. passport/security card/ bank cards
  • Their employer is unable to produce documents required
  • No access to labour contract
  • Threat or actual physical harm
  • Poor or non-existent health and safety standards
  • Fear of police/authorities

Do you recognise any of these signs in your workplace? On your commute to and from work? Or when going about your daily duties; shopping, going to the gym, walking the dog. Take care to look, see what is happening, and then report to either Modern Slavery Helpline, 08000 121 700, or to Crimestoppers anonymously, 0800 555 111. We are all responsible in contributing valuable intelligence to unearth cases that can be investigated and free those exploited.

The video below provides an insight into Modern Slavery / Human Trafficking from a Trafficker's view..


Modern Slavery in the Care Sector 

Key questions to prevent and identify labour exploitation in the care sector?

  • Do recruitment processes include questions to identify whether a person may have been trafficked, paid work finding fees, or was otherwise exploited whilst seeking employment?
  • Do businesses have any additional due diligence checks for workers at risk of being exploited? Including access to translation services?
  • How does your organisation make workers aware of their employment entitlements, and where they should direct complaints or queries?
  • Are business policies, including whistleblowing, ethical rights and health and safety, all fit for purpose in identifying, reporting and handling reports of labour exploitation and modern slavery?
  • Do members of your organisation and your supply chain receive training on spotting the signs of modern slavery and labour exploitation?
  • Do you have an internal escalation process if you identify an issue of exploitation? Do you know who to contact?

What to consider when reporting intelligence 

  • Provide the address of the care home and more details about the workers involved – what is their known or suspected nationality?
  • Do any appear to be minors?
  • Male or female?
  • What hours do they work?
  • Are shift start/end times known?
  • How are workers arriving, are there vehicle details?
  • How much are workers paid?
  • How does recruitment occur?

Whilst not all factors may be known, any additional details will assist the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) in identifying people and locations involved for operational purposes and to improve our intelligence picture.



You can also report Labour offences to partner agencies:


Support for carers / care workers


Page last reviewed March 2024