Publications

FLEX submission to the Mayor's Good Work Standard consultation

August 2017

FLEX response to the Mayor of London's consultation on his Good Work Standard.

FLEX Guide to Legal Remedies for Victims of Trafficking for Labour Exploitation

June 2017

This updated Guide recognises that access to legal remedies for victims of human trafficking is about more than compensation, and that access to justice relies on access to legal assistance and support. The aim of the Guide is to provide practical information that can assist service providers in informing victims about their legal options and directing them towards legal advice.

Between Decent Work and Modern Slavery

May 2017

Labour abuses over time can take a huge toll and leave workers vulnerable to situations of severe exploitation. This short animation builds awareness of the reasons why people fall into exploitation and shows the solutions FLEX seeks to end exploitation.

FLEX Submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade for the Inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia

May 2017

FLEX response to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia

Submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery: Responses to Questionnaire on Access to Justice and Remedy

April 2017

FLEX responses to the United National Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery consultation questionnaire on access to justice and remedy.

Priorities for the next government on corporate accountability, responsible business and trade

April 2017 - FLEX, CORE Coalition, Amnesty International, Anti-Slavery International & Traidcraft

A joint General Election briefing on modern slavery, corporate governance, corporate crime and trade from CORE, FLEX, Amnesty International UK, Anti-Slavery International and Traidcraft.

Improving the Identification and Support of Victims of Trafficking for Labour Exploitation in the EU

September 2016

This policy paper presents research findings and policy recommendations for EU policy makers on three key issues: the need for sustainable support and access to accommodation for victims of trafficking for labour exploitation; the increasing conflation of labour inspection and immigration control and the need for more proactive and victim-centred identification efforts; and the lack of access to legal remedies for victims of trafficking for labour exploitation. The paper was developed as part of the Pro-active Identification and Support of Victims of Trafficking for Labour Exploitation in the EU (Pro-Act) Project.

Improving Access to Compensation for Victims of Trafficking for Labour Exploitation in the UK

September 2016

This policy paper addresses the issue of access to compensation for victims of trafficking for labour exploitation in the UK. It identifies 4 key barriers to victims’ access to compensation in the UK, and proposes a set of recommendations to ensure all victims of human trafficking can obtain redress for the abuses committed against them. 

Support Without Recovery: the UK anti-trafficking response

September 2016

FLEX research into identification and support of victims of human trafficking in the UK has revealed the critical need for better information and support for potential victims of trafficking who enter the UK National Referral Mechanism – the UK’s official framework for identifying and supporting victims of trafficking. This short film, Support Without Recovery: the UK anti-trafficking response, gives an insight into the fear and uncertainty faced by those who have to wait for months to be recognized as victims of trafficking, with little or no support to help them move on with their lives

Labour Exploitation Advisory Group (LEAG) Position Paper: Labour Compliance to Exploitation and the Abuses In-between

August 2016 - Labour Exploitation Advisory Group

In this position paper the Labour Exploitation Advisory Group explores the link between labour abuses and exploitation, outlining the factors which in their experience cause or allow labour abuses to develop into more extreme exploitation. The paper makes recommendations for measures to address abuses across the spectrum and thereby prevent the development of exploitation. 

Guidance: understanding victim perspectives in identifying and reporting cases of labour exploitation

August 2016

Labour Exploitation Advisory Group (LEAG) Guidance: understanding victim perspectives in identifying and reporting cases of labour exploitation. This guidance provides a summary of some of the key issues statutory agencies and frontline professionals should be aware of when encountering and supporting victims of labour exploitation.

Pro-Act UK Pilot Report

July 2016 - FLEX

This report reviews the UK pilot implementation of the Pro-Act Project strategies for pro-active identification and support for victims of trafficking for labour exploitation, and sets out reflections and recommendations for change based on the outcomes of the project's pilot phase. 

FLEX Working Paper: Access to Compensation for Victims of Human Trafficking

July 2016 - Ainhoa Barrenechea

Access to compensation can play an important role in the recovery of survivors of human trafficking. Compensation awards can help victims move on with their lives and reduce their risk of further exploitation. This paper considers the ability of victims of human trafficking and other forms of modern slavery to access compensation, one year on from the enactment of the Modern Slavery Act. The findings of this research indicate that little has changed for victims seeking justice who are still facing significant legal and practical barriers to obtaining compensation for the abuses committed against them.

Vulnerability to human trafficking for labour exploitation

May 2016

This briefing was provided to inform the work of the London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) on protecting people who are vulnerable to crime. It sets out some of the main factors influencing vulnerability to human trafficking and labour exploitation. FLEX hopes this will influency strategy on tackling human trafficking in London as the Mayor develops plans and policy for 2016-2020. 

Beyond Compliance: Effective Reporting under the Modern Slavery Act

March 2016 - CORE Coalition and partners

Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) has joined leading charities to publish guidance on best practice in addressing modern slavery in corporate activities. The guidance sets out steps companies could take towards eradicating labour exploitation from their supply chains. It has been produced by leading NGOs in this sector including the CORE Coalition, FLEX, CAFOD and Amnesty International.

Since the inclusion of company reporting requirements in the UK Modern Slavery Act last year, this has become a hot topic for businesses and NGOs alike. This guidance provides a roadmap for businesses that truly want to take meaningful action in this area.

Identification and Support of Victims of Trafficking for Labour Exploitation in the Netherlands, the UK and Romania

February 2016 - FLEX, FairWork and ADPARE

The Pro-Act Project maps how identification and support systems are working in the three partner countries, and draws on this mapping to develop and pilot effective victim-centred strategies for improvement across the EU. This report analyses findings on identification and support from the UK, the Netherlands and Romania and sets out recommendations for change. These recommendations provide the basis for a set of EU- wide strategies to improve the pro-active identification and support of persons trafficked for labour exploitation. 

Parliamentary Briefing: Immigration Bill Lords Committee Stage

January 2016 - Caroline Robinson

This briefing covers three key areas relating to Part One of the Immigration Bill
1.    The Director of Labour Market Enforcement
2.    The Offence of Illegal Working
3.    New Government amendments in response to the Consultation - ‘Tackling Exploitation in the Labour Market’ 

FLEX believes that labour inspection and enforcement is key to preventing modern slavery. Whilst FLEX supports the establishment of a Director of Labour Market Enforcement to coordinate labour inspection efforts, the central role of the UK labour inspectorates in preventing exploitation risks being undermined by a politically motivated Director who lacks a clear mandate. The victims of modern slavery with whom FLEX works express deep fear and distrust of authorities as well as a real concern for immigration repercussions should they come forward. The Clause 8 Offence of Illegal Working will exacerbate such fears and play in to the hands of traffickers who seek to exploit and coerce vulnerable individuals in to exploitation. Finally the Gangmasters’ Licensing Authority is recognised as a best practice model worldwide. The Government is now proposing reducing its licensing role by introducing ‘flexibility’ in licensing despite just 19% of respondents to a recent Government consultation on labour exploitation supporting such moves. Further amendments requiring the GLA to carry out its functions in accordance with the Director’s strategy mean that its role as a Non-Departmental Public Body and the expertise it has developed as an independent authority is severely threatened. 

Memo to the Delegated Powers Committee on the Immigration Bill

January 2016 - Caroline Robinson

This Memorandum was submitted to the UK Parliament Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee setting out FLEX's concerns with respect to amendments tabled by the Government to the Immigration Bill at Committee Stage in the House of Lords which significantly amend existing powers of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA). FLEX is concerned that Government Amendment 77 paragraph 21 will be used to make changes to GLA licence standards without adequate transparency and scrutiny. Our fear is that unless Parliament is engaged in the shaping of licence standards then changes could be made without a clear evidential basis and without proper and full consultation of all stakeholders with expertise in labour sector licensing requirements.

 

FLEX response to Government's consultation on tackling exploitation in the labour market

December 2015

In this document FLEX responds the the Government's consultation on tackling exploitation in the labour market.  This consultation proposes an expanded role for key UK labour inspection agencies, proposing extra powers of criminal investigation for the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) and for labour inspection priorities to alter according to an annual strategy proposed by a new Director of Labour Market Enforcement.  The consultation also proposes a shift away from licensing towards voluntary schemes. In this response, FLEX warns that threats to the GLA licensing and license monitoring functions should be resisted and that increasing criminal powers of the GLA could distract from these core licensing and monitoring functions.  FLEX notes that the UK has one of the weakest labour inspectorates in Europe and is proposing weakening it further through by asking it to do more with less resources. 

Joint Briefing - Immigration Bill, Business, Trade Union and NGO

December 2015

As a coalition of business representatives, trade unions and NGOs, we welcome the government’s commitment to tackling labour market exploitation.In advance of discussions by the House of Lords on the Committee Stage of the Immigration Bill on 18 January, we set out a number of points on Part 1: Labour Market Enforcement:

1. Reforms of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) licensing regime should not weaken GLA licensing standards or reduce application and compliance inspections that protect vulnerable workers;

2. An expanded role for the GLA should be matched by additional resources;

3. The Director of Labour Market Enforcement set out in the Bill must be required to engage with key stakeholders. 

This briefing is a joint publication from: The Association of Labour Providers; the British Retail Consortium; The Ethical Trading Initiative; Focus on Labour Exploitation; The Institute for Human Rights and Business; and The Trade Union Congress. 

Parliamentary Briefing: Immigration Bill Commons Report Stage

November 2015 - Caroline Robinson

This latest FLEX Parliamentary Briefing on the Immigration Bill looks at Part One of the Bill and seeks improvements to ensure that the proposed Director of Labour Market Enforcement acts in the interests of those most vulnerable to labour exploitation. Further FLEX advocates the removal of the 'offence of illegal working' from the Immigration Bill on the grounds that it will be used by unscrupulous employers to control vulnerable migrant workers but also that it will prevent the identification of trafficking as victims will be unwilling to come forward for fear of immigration repercussions. This briefing also touches upon the Government's ongoing consultation on 'Labour Market Exploitation: Improving Enforcement' that closes on 7th December 2015. 

Summary response to Government's consultation on labour market exploitation

November 2015 - Caroline Robinson

This is FLEX's analysis of the UK Department for Business Innovation and Skills and Home Office ongoing consultation on Tackling Exploitation in the Labour Market that closes on 7th December 2015. FLEX sets out core questions about the consultation approach and direction of travel for labour inspection in the UK. We also question the use of the term 'organised labour market exploitation' in the document that we believe is poorly defined and founded on limited understanding of the drivers of labour exploitation in the UK today. 

FLEX Parliamentary Briefing: Immigration Bill

October 2015

FLEX’s Committee Stage Parliamentary Briefing on the Immigration Bill calls for amendments to be made in the following areas: to ensure the Director of Labour Market Enforcement has the protection of workers as their primary purpose; to establish a means of formal engagement between any Director and civil society; for the ‘labour market enforcement strategy’ to make an assessment of obstacles to effective labour market enforcement; to provide that the Director makes an assessment of the resources required for effective labour market enforcement, rather than to determine how available resources should be allocated; to ensure that the Strategy does not divert labour inspection agencies from existing work; to ensure that the annual report of the Director makes an assessment of labour abuses faced by workers and remedies received; and to remove the offence of illegal working from the Bill. Joint opposition amendments were made in all these areas at Committee stage on 27th October. 

FLEX Written submission to the Immigration Bill Committee

October 2015

This submission sets out key legal definitions of relevance in considering the role of the Director of Labour Market Enforcement set out in Part One of the UK Immigration Bill. It also sets out key laws and regulations of relevance to modern slavery indicators to be considered within the remit of the Director. Finally it argues that victims of modern slavery will be made more vulnerable to exploitation by the Immigration Bill proposed Clause 8 ‘offence of illegal working’.

Oral Submission to the Public Bill Committee on the Immigration Bill

October 2015 - Caroline Robinson

Policy Director Caroline Robinson gave evidence to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee on the Immigration Bill on 20 October 2015 on proposals for a new 'Director of labour market enforcement' to address exploitation in the UK. This evidence covers: The need for a firewall between immigration control and labour inspection; The importance of labour inspection to enforce labour standards and the absence of labour inspection in the UK; The threat to trafficked persons posed by a proposed 'illegal working offence' in the Immigration Bill; and How effective labour inspection to address exploitation must have the protection of workers and labour rights at its core. 

FLEX Policy Blueprint: Combatting Labour Exploitation through Labour Inspection

October 2015

This Policy Blueprint sets out a framework for labour inspection to combat trafficking for labour exploitation in the UK. It highlights ways in which labour inspection can succeed in preventing modern slavery from taking place as well as how it can help victims of severe exploitation to exit such situations. It argues that only with victim-centred labour inspection and enforcement will the UK stand a chance of meeting its international commitments to prevent modern slavery.

Policy and Practice: Claiming Space for Labour Rights within the United Kingdom Modern Slavery Crusade

September 2015 - Caroline Robinson

The focus of this article is on advocacy opportunities provided by the anti-trafficking framework in a new political climate. Through the case study of the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 deliberations the article explores opportunities to use political interest in human trafficking to advocate labour rights and protections for vulnerable workers. The article explores how, largely cynical, political motivations for the debate on ‘modern slavery’ in the UK, provided an opportunity to reframe the anti-trafficking discourse in this context.

The UK’s new immigration bill creates perfect conditions for slavery to thrive

August 2015 - Caroline Robinson

This article sets out how despite the first elements of the government’s Modern Slavery Act become law in July, good work in this area risks being undone by a hard line and ultimately counterproductive immigration policy. It highlights how policies and practices putting immigration control above all else will result in increased forced labour and modern-day slavery in the UK.

Pro-Act Working Paper: Pilot Strategies for Pro-Active Identification and Support to Victims of Trafficking for Labour Exploitation

July 2015

In this working paper FLEX sets out the main findings from national research by  FLEX in the UK, FairWork in the Netherlands and ADPARE in Romania as part of the Pro-Act Project on pro-active identification and support to victims of trafficking for labour exploitation. These findings provide the basis for the development of strategies to improve the pro-active identification and support to persons trafficked for labour exploitation, which will be piloted over six months in each of the partner countries. The Pro-Act Project is co-funded by the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme of the European Union. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

The Modern Slavery Act Comes Into Force, Now Let’s Make It a Force for Good

July 2015 - Claire Falconer

This article considers the changes coming into force under the Modern Slavery Act, and discusses the work to be done to ensure that these new measures strengthen the protection of victims’ rights and prevent the exploitation of vulnerable workers.

The Modern Slavery Act: What’s in it for migrant workers?

April 2015 - Claire Falconer

In March 2015 the Modern Slavery Act 2015 received Royal Assent, but what difference does the law really make for actual and potential victims of severe exploitation? Of course this largely remains to be seen, but there are some areas in which the new law has potential to improve the situation of exploited workers. Whilst the Act shows progress in the UK’s approach to forced labour, slavery and human trafficking, it is far too heavily weighted towards prosecution, rather than prevention and protection, and effective responses have been thwarted by immigration concerns.

Anti-slavery responses should offer solutions not benevolence

April 2015 - Caroline Robinson

The modern slavery act is seen as a righteous cause for many UK decision makers, however victims of exploitation do not share the simplistic moral narrative, seeking practical solutions not benevolence.  In ongoing research Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) is conducting with partners in Romania and the Netherlands, we are speaking to trafficked persons, service providers and government agencies about identification and support in cases of trafficking for labour exploitation. The picture emerging shows a need for practical solutions, not benevolence.

FLEX Working Paper 01: Prevention of Trafficking for Labour Exploitation

March 2015

Prevention is considered the foundation of any anti-trafficking response yet UK efforts to prevent trafficking to date have been patchy and prevention work has largely been left to the poorly resourced Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA). This paper sets out a roadmap for prevention for the UK including four measures that would improve prevention, including improved labour standard monitoring, the enforcement of employment law and ensuring that immigration responses do not contribute to trafficking for labour exploitation.

FLEX Working Paper 02: Access to Justice for Victims of Trafficking

March 2015

Access to justice for trafficked persons is fundamental to a rights-based response to human trafficking or ‘modern day slavery’. The ability of victims to access legal remedies promotes their rehabilitation, prevents re-trafficking and contributes to the punishment of traffickers. Yet around the world weak laws and a lack of political commitment to victims’ rights means that justice is rarely a reality for victims. This paper sets out five steps the UK can take to improve access to justice for trafficked persons.

FLEX Parliamentary Briefing, Modern Slavery Bill, House of Lords Report Stage

February 2015

FLEX Parliamentary Briefing including recommendations for the UK Modern Slavery Bill at Lords Report Stage in the Houses of Parliament. This briefing calls for the Gangmasters’ Licensing Authority (GLA) and Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate to have their resources increased in order that they might conduct pro-active labour inspection to prevent trafficking for labour exploitation. The briefing called for the GLA to have its remit extended to all ‘high-risk’ labour sectors in order to ensure its licensing standards cover all vulnerable workers.

Modern Slavery: We need more than ‘first aid’ for victims – outright prevention should be the goal

July 2014 - Caroline Robinson

As politicians of all parties declare their support for ending slavery in the UK, there is a unique opportunity to put in place measures that would ensure no worker ends up in exploitation. But this opportunity will be missed if our leaders continue to talk tough on modern slavery without recognising that labour protections for all workers are the first line of defence in this fight. Our job is to make the argument that protections are most useful before someone becomes a victim and therefore should be applied to all workers regardless of migrant status.

FLEX Parliamentary Briefing, Modern Slavery Bill, House of Commons Second Reading

July 2014

This briefing raises concerns that the Modern Slavery Bill is narrowly focused on criminal justice issues, with minimal provision for prevention and the protection of victims. It highlights how, without prevention and protection, the two core planks of the ‘three Ps’ response, efforts to eradicate modern day slavery will fail. The briefing calls for measures to prevent trafficking and forced labour abuses by providing for a strong labour inspection system as a first line of defence against labour exploitation. It also highlights the need to protect victims by adopting a broader approach to justice that extends beyond prosecutions and prioritises protection for victims.

Bringing Balance to the UK Modern Slavery Bill

April 2014 - Claire Falconer

FLEX responds, following publication of the Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill comprehensive analysis of the draft Bill. The Committee's report provides a strong basis for amendment of the Bill, to pull its focus back to the victims it seeks to protect and to the exploitation it seeks to prevent.

Prevention – The First Line of Defence Against Human Trafficking

March 2014 - Caroline Robinson

In August 2013 the UK Home Secretary declared modern slavery a personal priority and a draft Modern Day Slavery bill was hastily published by December, outlining the government's blue-print for the UK's approach to ending human trafficking. FLEX support strong efforts to tackle this crime. However, too often politicians and activists eager to abolish 'modern day slavery' demonstrate a desire to 'unchain' or save victims from their enslavement, that focuses on the end point, rather than the beginning of the trafficking process. A more victim-centred response adopts lower-profile but more effective steps to prevent victims from being enslaved in the first place.

Written Evidence submitted by Focus on Labour Exploitation to the Joint Committee on the draft Modern Slavery Bill

February 2014

The UN Human Trafficking Protocol (2003) sets out the ‘three P’ approach to trafficking, which establishes prevention, protection and prosecution as central to efforts to combat human trafficking. Effective labour inspection and regulation is key to the prevention of trafficking for labour exploitation. Strong human rights standards for victim assistance and support should inform statutory protection of trafficked persons. Finally, effective oversight, through a truly independent, expert anti-slavery commissioner, ensures that anti- trafficking responses are meeting their stated aims.

Theresa May’s modern slavery bill will fail to provide protection to victims

December 2013 - Caroline Robinson and Claire Falconer

Instead of offering legal clarification, the bill offers confused definitions, a blinkered focus on prosecution and an anti-slavery commissioner whose resources and activities would be controlled by the home secretary. Far from a credible attempt to address a complex problem, the bill in its current form is more concerned with what the UK is seen to be doing than the real impact of our actions.  

FLEX Written Submission: Modern Slavery Bill Evidence Review

November 2013

This submission responds to questions set by the Modern Slavery Bill Evidence Review committee led by Frank Field MP. FLEX gave written and oral evidence to the committee highlighting the need for strong prevention measures to be included in the Modern Slavery Bill.