News story

UK takes further action to prevent forced labour

UK Government ratifies international agreement to strengthen protection of exploited workers

Karen Bradley and Guy Ryder

The Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation Karen Bradley has ratified a legally binding international agreement, which sets out action needed to tackle forced labour and punish perpetrators furthering the Government’s commitment to protect UK workers from exploitation.

The UK is the third country in the world to sign up to the international commitment with the ILO, after Niger and Norway.

The ILO’s ‘Forced Labour Protocol’ aims to create a safer environment for employees as it sets legal requirements for the UK to prevent forced labour, protect victims and provide access to support.

Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation Karen Bradley has ratified the agreement with the Director General of the ILO, Guy Ryder, at a meeting in London today.

The meeting brought together representatives from the UK Government, unions, charities and business to reiterate the UK’s commitment to eradicating forced labour.

One way in which the Government is delivering on its commitment to tackle forced labour is through the Immigration Bill, which will introduce a new Director of Labour Market Enforcement who will develop a national strategy to address worker exploitation in the UK, as well as proposals that will enhance the powers and remit of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to tackle exploitation of workers.

Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation Karen Bradley said:

Sadly, forced labour can take place in any industry, but the UK Government will not stand by while criminals profit from this trade in human misery.

That’s why we have committed to working with the International Labour Organization and other countries to make sure we are providing the strongest possible protection for victims and bringing perpetrators to justice.

Through our landmark Modern Slavery Act we are already ensuring that those who are guilty of forced labour offences can face life behind bars, and our Immigration Bill, will ensure that the Gangmasters Licensing Authority has new powers to investigate worker exploitation.

Published 22 January 2016