What is forced or compulsory labour?

The offence, under s.71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, of requiring a person to perform forced or compulsory labour requires an element of coercion or deception on the employer's part towards the worker. The employer must know, or ought to know, that the arrangement was oppressive and not truly voluntary.

There are a number of factors that could amount to evidence of coercion or could be indicative of forced or compulsory labour, for example:

  • violence, or threats of violence, by the employer to the worker or his or her family;
  • threats to expose the worker to the authorities because of his or her immigration status;
  • withholding the worker's passport or wages;
  • supplying false information to the worker about his or her employment rights;
  • imposing excessive hours or hazardous working conditions;
  • debt bondage;
  • failing to supply adequate safety equipment or clothing; and
  • providing poor accommodation.