Modern Slavery Bill

Written evidence submitted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (MS 25)

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) is one of the UK’s largest social policy charities.

We fund a UK-wide research and development programme to confront:

The root causes of poverty and injustice

Housing, communities and cities

The challenges and opportunities of our ageing society

We influence policy, develop services and inspire positive social change. More information about JRF can be found at


1. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation welcomes the opportunity to submit evidence to the review of the National Referral Mechanism.

JRF's Forced Labour Programme (2010-2014) supported research to explore the nature, scope and scale of forced labour, how it can be tackled and what lessons can be drawn from elsewhere in Europe. This programme has funded over ten distinct pieces of research into different aspects of forced labour and is so far the largest body of evidence and continuous study of this issue in the UK. All publications and information about the programme can be found at:

2. The programme has focused on forced labour and labour exploitation in the UK, including trafficking for labour exploitation, and other policy areas that impact on forced labour and trafficking. It has explored the scope and scale of the problem in the UK, and also examined sectors such as cleaning, agriculture, catering and construction where exploitation is known to occur. JRF also funded studies to examine how business models facilitate forced labour; the interplay between immigration status and worker vulnerability to forced labour; supply chains and the business model of forced labour; and the impact of regulatory frameworks.

3. In this submission we do not comment on areas which we recognise to be very important but where JRF does not have our own evidence base, such as trafficking for sexual exploitation and child trafficking.


4. JRF funded research found that forced labour affects at least 3,000-5,000 people in the UK and the problem appears to be growing. While it sometimes is the outcome of trafficking, not all victims of forced labour would have been trafficked.

5. The research supported by JRF demonstrated that forced labour in the UK is principally an issue of exploitation and an issue of supply chains of goods and labour.

6. One of the key conclusions of the Forced Labour Programme research is that no single intervention can eliminate forced labour. Effective solutions need to combine regulation, enforcement and cross-government strategy with protection and redress, provided for in law, for all exploited workers.

7. JRF welcomes the initiative to introduce a comprehensive modern slavery law. We would like to see the Modern Slavery Bill to:

Improve regulation by clarifying and simplifying the existing fragmented legislation and provide clear guidance on the definition and indicators of forced labour.

Improve enforcement by introducing mandatory regulatory arrangements on product and labour supply chains.

Improve protection of those affected by forced labour by guaranteeing entitlement to assistance, including to compensation, in law.

8. To that effect we recommend the below amendments to existing clauses in the Bill and propose new clauses to be included in the Bill.

Recommended amendment: Part 4 Clause 42

9. JRF welcomes the inclusion in the Bill of a section on protection of victims. We note with appreciation that the clause covers all victims of modern slavery, recognising that victims of forced labour deserve the same protection and assistance as that afforded to victims of human trafficking.

10. However, JRF considers that in order to address the inadequacy of the current victim assistance mechanism, the Bill ought to go further than establishing the obligation to introduce guidance on victim identification, and guarantee minimum standards of victim protection in law.

11. JRF funded research revealed that the most pressing issue with the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) since its introduction has been the lack of statutory basis. This has led to arbitrariness in NRM application and access. Furthermore, the absence of a formal right to appeal an NRM decision makes the system unaccountable and potentially unjust, as some victims have been able to have their decisions reconsidered in an informal process rather than through a formal channel. (Skrivankova, 2014).

12. The research further concluded that the different priorities of one of the two competent authorities, the UKVI, potentially conflict with the obligation to identify victims of trafficking and have been found to impact on the NRM decision-making process (Balch, 2012).

13. Added to that, under the current system, in many cases the needs of victims are still overlooked or victims are not identified (Scott et al. 2013). Where victims are not identified, this leads to a ‘justice gap’ in enforcement against perpetrators of modern slavery. While workers enjoy de jure protection through criminal law, the law is rarely used if the victims are not identified. In theory, civil and employment law could also protect victims of forced labour and be more accessible, but this also is rarely used and becoming harder to access (Geddes, et al. 2013).

14. The right of victims to specific forms of protection and assistance is enshrined in international law which is already binding for the UK. For example, victims of forced labour that are trafficked are entitled to protection and assistance under Art.10 of the Council of Europe Convention on trafficking from the first moment a suspicion has been raised that a person might have been a victim.

15. Furthermore, Articles 3 &4 of the new Protocol supplementing the ILO Forced Labour Convention No. 29 require states to take measures to identify, protect and rehabilitate victims and to provide them with access to effective remedies (regardless of their immigration status) including compensation. The UK Government voted in favour of the Protocol in June 2014.

16. JRF recommends that Clause 42 be amended to:

Guarantee minimum standards of protection and assistance and access to compensation and redress to any victim of modern slavery regardless of their immigration status, in line with the UK’s international obligations.

Establish a decision-making procedure to identify whether a person is a victim that will operate separately from any decisions about a person's immigration status and for this decision to be made by agencies where there is no risk of a conflict of interest in this regard.

Guarantee the right of victims to formally appeal a decision in relation to their identification as a victim of modern slavery.

Obligate the Secretary of State to issue guidance on identification of modern slavery, including definitions based on international legal standards and identification indicators, based on those developed by the International Labour Organization and the European Commission.

Omissions from the Bill

17. Based on the extensive evidence of the Forced Labour Programme, JRF requests the Public Bill committee to consider the inclusion in the Bill of clauses addressing:

Forced labour in supply chains

Prevention of forced labour

New clause to address forced labour in supply chains

18. JRF funded research showed that forced labour is a business found not only in the international product supply chains linked to the UK, but commonly in the UK domestic labour supply chains.

19. The complexity and lack of regulatory framework result in a situation where supply chains of various economic actors are linked and regular, legitimate business is a part of supply chains tainted with forced labour.

20. Exploitation is most prominent at the bottom tiers of the economy, where private producers and labour intermediaries engage in the business of forced labour

(Allain et al. 2013).

21. JRF supports recommendations to include in the Modern Slavery Bill a clause establishing mandatory arrangements for business, such as mandatory disclosure on measures undertaken by businesses to identify, address and prevent modern slavery in their supply chains, to create regulatory consistency and level playing field for reputable, compliant business.

22. In addition, the JRF requests the Public Bill Committee to consider extending the supply-chain clause in the Modern Slavery Bill to cover UK labour supply chains.

23. JRF funded research documented that in the UK labour supply chains, there is a both significant risk of and actual incidence of forced labour. These risks relate to the employment relationships of a worker, either directly with an employer of with a labour market intermediary. Industries that rely largely on contingent labour (such as food sector or construction) and where the use of intermediaries and time and cost pressures are common were identified as the outlet of forced labour

(Allain et al. 2013).

New clause to prevent of forced labour

24. JRF further requests the Public Bill Committee to consider including in the Bill additional provisions to:

Extend the authority of the Gangmaster's Licensing Authority to cover sectors of the economy where the risk of forced labour and exploitation has been demonstrated.

Oblige the Secretary of State to issue guidance on identification of forced labour for agencies that may come across forced labour situation in the exercise of their routine duties

25. The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) has been repeatedly found to be successful in tackling modern slavery, (albeit within limited industries given its mandate), because of its pro-active approach, multi-agency working methods and approach to victims. Furthermore, the combination of licensing and enforcement by the GLA has been shown to have a deterrent and preventative effect.

26. A consistent recommendation of JRF funded research, as well as of others [1] , has been that the authority of the GLA be extended (with increased resources) to cover other sectors where exploitation and forced labour have been identified and workers remain most vulnerable.

27. While in cases of trafficking for sexual exploitation the police tends to most commonly identify victims, in cases of forced labour it is not the case. When it comes to uncovering forced labour situations, the overall enforcement is spread over a number of agencies and regulatory bodies (e.g. the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, Health and Safety Executive or Trading Standards Authority).

28. Because of the complex regulatory environment, the powers, interests and capacity of organisations to deal with forced labour vary profoundly. Furthermore, there are inconsistencies in terms of the levels of regulation and enforcement applied to different kinds of activities, economic sectors or employment types. (Balch, 2012)

29. Still, many of these agencies may be better equipped to identify forced labour situations than the police because of their familiarity with the context and practice in particular sectors of the economy and hence it is important to give them the mandate, tools and resources to be able to effective contribute to combating forced labour.

Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner

30. The JRF wishes to express its support for proposed amendments to Clauses 34-38 to give the Anti-Slavery Commissioner a broad monitoring mandate covering all policy areas relevant to modern slavery. In particular, JRF funded research pointed to the need to monitor and analyse impacts of policies on workers' vulnerability to exploitation and forced labour, such as policies relating to labour market operations, workplace relations, regulation of employment and enforcement of workers´ rights. JRF also supports the recommendation of the Commissioner to be fully independent of the Government.

September 2014


JRF Programme on Forced Labour in the UK – research reports:

Allain, J et al. Forced Labour’s business models and supply chains, JRF: York, 2013.

Balch, A. Regulation and Enforcement to Tackle Forced Labour in the UK: A systematic response? JRF: York 2012.

Dwyer, P. et al. Forced labour and UK immigration policy:status matters? JRF:York, 2011.

Geddes, A, Craig G, Scott, S et al. Forced labour in the UK, JRF: York 2013.

Lalani, M and Metcalf, H. Forced labour in the UK: the business angle. JRF: York, 2012.

Scott, S, Craig G, and Geddes, A. Experiences of Forced Labour in the UK Food Industry, JRF: York 2012.

Skrivankova, K. Between decent work and forced labour: examining the continuum of exploitation, JRF: York 2012

Skrivankova, K. Forced labour in the UK - summary of evidence, JRF: York 2014.

[1] Including in the report by Baroness Butler Sloss, Frank Field MP and Sir John Randall MP: Establishing Britain as a world leader in the fight against modern slavery, published on 16 December 2013

Prepared 15th October 2014