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
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:
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.
- the “Visual Language” brochure, which can help to carry out an initial, low-threshold consultation on recognising exploitation:
- an information flyer for victims that combines indicators of exploitation and information on the rights of victims. It can be issued by authorities as a first step in fulfilling the information obligation. It is already available in nine languages:
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.
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. The advice centre has experience with other cases and in cooperation with authorities. It can therefore better assess whether the authorities can help Daniel. The Advice centre usually has a competent contact person at the police or customs who is familiar with the subject of forced labour.
All people who work in Germany must notify the authorities in good time and, if they receive wages, 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. In addition, as a witness he can help to ensure that the offender receives a punishment. In the best case, Daniel also prevents other people from being exploited because the offenders are deterred by the punishment.
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.