Forced labour and labour exploitation

Forced labour and labour exploitation

Example case
Daniel found an agency in his home country Romania through an internet ad that will find him work in Germany. He has to pay € 500 for this. Since he does not have that much money, the agency tells him that he can pay off the fee later. In Germany, his new employer picks him up from the bus station and takes him to a small apartment where other men are already staying overnight. The employer persuades Daniel to give him his documents because they are more secure with him. Daniel has to pay € 300 per month for the accommodation. The employer shows him documents in German that Daniel does not understand and says it is his employment contract. After Daniel has signed, the employer takes the documents away from him. He starts to work: An average of twelve hours, seven days a week. The employer drives him to different construction sites every day and brings him back so that Daniel does not really know where he is or where he works. He only knows the way from the accommodation to the supermarket. At the end of the first month he does not get any money on the grounds that he has to pay off his debts first. At the end of the second month he is put off again. He gets € 200 once to buy food. He befriends two other men from his accommodation, who tell him they get just enough money to survive. He wants to quit and move out and demands his documents back. The employer refuses and threatens him with the fact that he still owes him money. He also knows where Daniel’s family lives, who would get “visitors” if he did not continue to work. At the same time, he again promises to give him money soon. Daniel does not know anyone in Germany, does not speak German, has no money, does not know his rights and is afraid. He sees no other option but to keep working.

Daniel finds himself in a situation from which he cannot easily get out. He was lured into an exploitative employment relationship by the pretence of fake facts. He gets next to no money. He is also told that he has debts. The employer has threatened him with harming his family back home. In addition, he has taken all the documents from him, so that Daniel cannot simply leave his employer.

These are typical signs of human trafficking, forced labour, or labour exploitation. A checklist from the service office against labour exploitation, forced labour and human trafficking helps to identify and classify signs of forced labour

https://www.servicestelle-gegen-zwangsarbeit. de/arbeitshilfen/indikatorenliste/

1. Specialist Advice centres for those affected by human trafficking and forced labour

As a victim of forced labour, Daniel has special rights. In particular, the German authorities are obligated to identify the coercive situation as such and to free him from it. At the same time, he also has a right to information and advice.

It is very important that Daniel is recognised as a victim and referred to a specialised Advice centre or goes to such an Advice centre himself.

The specialised Advice centre can, among other things, advise him on questions of residence and social law, provide crisis intervention and psychosocial advice, and arrange legal counsel. It helps with existential emergencies, knows how to access medical care and, if necessary, can also provide information on offers of help in the countries of origin. A specialised Advice centre can also help Daniel find accommodation. This applies to EU citizens as well as people from third countries

You can find an overview of all Advice centres that specialise in labour exploitation and forced labour here, for example:

https://www.servicestelle-gegen-zwangsarbeit. de/beratungsstellen/

Employment law Advice centres are also generally made aware of how to recognise signs of forced labour and exploitation and to help those affected in their precarious situation.

In addition, there are other materials that are intended, in particular, to make it easier for Advice centres and authorities to recognise signs of forced labour (e.g. “Visual Language”)

https://www.servicestelle-gegen-zwangsarbeit.de/arbeitshilfen/0_visual-language_broschuere_web/

2. Job centre

Daniel is an EU citizen and therefore has the right to freedom of movement. The specialised Advice centres for those affected by forced labour can help Daniel with questions about livelihood security. EU citizens who are affected by forced labour are entitled to subsistence benefits according to Social Security Code (SGB) II.

In order to assert a claim at the Job centre, a certificate from the police, customs or public prosecutor is usually required, confirming the suspicion of labour exploitation/forced labour/human trafficking. The specialised Advice centre will help Daniel obtain this certificate.

3. Police/Customs

Daniel can also contact a law enforcement agency directly, such as the police or customs. However, it is always advisable to contact a specialised Advice centre beforehand in order to find out about the possibilities of cooperation with the responsible law enforcement authorities. The Advice centre usually has a competent contact person at the police or customs who is familiar with the subject of forced labour.

Daniel should be aware that all people who work in Germany must notify the authorities in good time and, if they receive wages, have to pay taxes and social security contributions. Daniel was not enrolled in the Social Security and neither taxes nor social security contributions were paid on his behalf. This is illegal in Germany

However, the risk of being punished for such an offense is low for Daniel. If a victim of human trafficking reports a crime he has committed, the public prosecutor may refrain from prosecuting him. The office of the public prosecutor will only have to take action against the victim himself in the case of particularly serious crimes. If only an administrative offence has been com - mitted, it is at the discretion of the competent authority whether an act is prosecuted or a fine is imposed.

Even if Daniel, as a potential victim of human trafficking, is generally not obliged to cooperate with the police or customs, it offers more advantages than disadvantages for him. He also helps to ensure that the criminal masterminds can be processed with the full severity of the law.

4. Employer

Daniel has worked and is entitled to receive his wages. An employment law Advice centre can help Daniel get paid for his work. To do so, it will contact the employer and support Daniel in finding a lawyer if he has to go to a Labour court. The exact steps were described in Chapter 2: Non-payment of wage.

5. Court: Criminal proceedings/adhesion proceedings

A specialised Advice centre for forced labour can explain to Daniel what options and support options he has in the event of criminal proceedings against the employer. It can also help him find a suitable lawyer. It can also check whether he has a right to compensation for material or immaterial damage.