Industry Profile - Construction - 2020
Here we look at labour exploitation in the construction industry and the headline trends for this sector including victim profiles, location, how they are recruited and transported to the UK.
Victims tend to be male and of Romanian or Albanian nationality. Age is mostly unknown but likely to be under 45 years where reported.
Vulnerabilities are targeted, most frequently irregular migrants and individuals who have difficulty communicating in English.
The most frequently reported location is London. This is followed by the South-East, Eastern and North-West regions. There is limited reporting in the remaining regions.
Methods used to recruit workers into the construction sector are largely unknown. Limited reports suggest recruitment can occur via friends or family, internet adverts and social media.
Transport to the UK
Limited reporting of transport by aeroplane or bus and often organised by the exploiter.
The provision of substandard and/or overcrowded accommodation is common. This includes residential properties and building sites. Limited reports suggest workers are housed in caravans and outbuildings.
Some workers are unsure about when or how much they will be paid. Payment below National Minimum Wage is common with some reports suggesting a daily rate of £10- £50 for in excess of eight hours work.
Some workers report having wages withheld or not being paid at all. Sometimes payment comes in the form of food or accommodation. There are reports of workers being indebted to the exploiter for travel and/or accommodation costs.
Health and safety
Reports have identified individuals working without genuine CSCS certificates, relevant training and/or previous experience. Language barriers lead to miscommunications. Lack of PPE has led to some injuries.
The labour supply shortage is likely to continue, and the points-based immigration system may further impact on the recruitment of low-skilled workers. The ageing demographic is likely to have an impact on provision and training at all levels.
The current pandemic has had an impact on some supply chains and resulted in the suspension of work. These issues may be ongoing for some time affecting workforce, materials and funding.
The construction sector is likely to grow over the coming years to address further housing demand. There are also major infrastructure projects such as HS2 and the proposed building of a third runway at Heathrow.
Key questions to prevent and identify labour exploitation
• How do you ensure workers on site know how much they should be paid?
• Do you have a publicised reporting process for complaints by workers?
• Do you have access to translation services in your organisation?
• Do you have any additional due diligence checks for workers at risk of being exploited?
• Do you know and understand each level of your supply chain, including contractors? Do you conduct background checks?
• Do members of your organisation receive training on spotting the signs of modern slavery and labour exploitation?
• Do you have an internal escalation process if you identify an issue of exploitation? Do you know who to contact?
• Have you considered joining the construction protocol?
What to consider when reporting intelligence
Example: A construction company are hiring workers from Romania and paying them below minimum wage, cash in hand.
What else would be useful information when reporting?
Provide more details about the workers involved
- Do any appear to be minors?
- Male or female?
- How many workers are affected?
- What hours do they work?
- How are workers arriving, are there vehicle details?
- How does recruitment occur?
- Are there any more company details?
- What is the geographical impact – where are workers living and working?
- How recent is this information?
Whilst not all factors may be known, any additional details will assist the GLAA in identifying people and locations involved for operational purposes and to improve our intelligence picture.
Other GLAA resources are available including our Spotting the Signs leaflet.
Who to contact
Please report to the GLAA:
• Unlicensed trading in the regulated sector (agriculture, horticulture, shellfish gathering and any associated processing and packaging) across the UK.
• Labour market offences (non-payment of the National Minimum Wage, breach of Employment Agency Standards) in the regulated sector in England and Wales
• Individuals, labour users or labour providers who are suspected of modern slavery and human trafficking in any labour industry (excluding sexual exploitation), or individuals who are potential victims of such activity in England and Wales.
Please report to partners:
• Issues of National Minimum Wage only, in sectors that are not GLAA regulated to the HMRC NMW team (https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/national-minimum-wage-enquiries-and-complaints)
• Health and safety issues only (all sectors) to the Health and Safety Executive (http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/concerns.htm)
• Workplace relations and employment law issues (including contract issues, discrimination and grievances) to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) (https://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1410)
• When there is an immediate threat to life contact the police emergency number.
• To report labour exploitation, human trafficking or modern slavery outside of the regulated sectors in Northern Ireland or Scotland, contact the local police service.