Modern slavery takes many forms, with men, women and children of all ages and backgrounds falling victim to human trafficking, forced labour, domestic servitude, or debt bondage.
People can be exploited to work for little or no pay in trades such as car washes, food production and the beauty and construction industries.
However, seasonal workers can also be exploited as they support our rural industries and so it’s important that workers know their rights.
Businesses that supply labour to rural businesses are regulated by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) which operates a licensing scheme ensuring a certain set of standards are met for seasonal workers.
This includes ensuring workers are paid the minimum wage, receive a pay slip, work regulated hours, and have sufficient breaks and annual leave.
They also ensure health and safety legislation is complied with and any available accommodation is of a set standard.
Chief Inspector Pete Basham who has been leading this week’s focus on serious and organised crime, said: “Modern slavery is a form of serious and organised crime, with people conned and coerced to work in very poor conditions, often under the threat of violence against themselves or their families.
“We often associate modern slavery with car washes and the construction and beauty industries, however, people working in our rural areas as seasonal workers can also be victims of this type of crime.
“The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority operate a stringent licensing scheme that regulates this industry and it’s vital that businesses that want to employ seasonal workers use agencies that have a licence and comply with its terms.
“If you have concerns that someone is a victim of modern slavery, please report it to us via 101, northants.police.uk or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
Potential signs that someone is a victim of modern slavery include:
not be in possession of their passports or other travel or identity documents, as those documents are being held by someone else
be unable to leave their work environment
be unable to move freely
depend on their employer for work, transport, and accommodation without any choice
be unable to communicate freely with others
have no access to medical care
be subjected to violence or threats of violence against themselves or against their family members and loved ones
allow others to speak for them when addressed directly
be unable to choose when or where they work
work excessively long hours over long periods
not be dressed adequately for the work they do for example, they may lack protective equipment or warm clothing
live in poor or substandard accommodation
live in degrading, unsuitable places, such as agricultural or industrial buildings
have wages paid into an account used by other people
suffer injuries that appear to be the result of an assault
have injuries that appear old, untreated or that they cannot explain
wear the same clothes each day
Details of other agencies that can provide support and advice:
The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority works in partnership to protect vulnerable and exploited workers.
Call 0800 432 0804 Free, confidential reporting line (some mobile providers may charge)