Industry Profiles - Food Service Industry - 2020
Here we look at labour exploitation in the food service industry and the headline trends for this sector including victim profiles, location, how they are recruited and working conditions.
Exploitation of both male and female workers is reported, but predominantly male, and usually under the age of 45 years.
Romanian nationals are most frequently reported in the sector, followed by Chinese nationals.
There are reports of vulnerabilities being targeted by exploiters including irregular migrants, those with financial difficulties and learning disabilities. There are also reports of minors working in the sector.
There is slightly higher reporting in the North East and East Midlands, although this may be a result of intelligence generated from multi-agency operations in these areas rather than indicating areas of increased risk.
Most reports concern restaurants or takeaways serving Chinese or pan-Asian cuisine. Also, takeaways serving fast food.
Methods of recruitment are largely unknown. There are limited reports of adverts placed on the internet and social media platforms, also via family and friends.
Transport to the UK
There are limited reports of transport to the UK taking place by coach or bus. There are reports of exploiters organising this for a fee resulting in debt bondage.
Accommodation is commonly provided by the exploiter, often a flat above the restaurant or takeaway which can be substandard and/or overcrowded.
The most common concern is the non-payment of National Minimum Wage; with the hourly rate generally between £2 and £5 an hour.
There are reports of withheld wages - in one instance a worker was given a room above a kebab shop instead of a wage.
Long working hours are reported, and breaks are often inadequate leading to concerns for workers' health and safety.
Increased focus on home deliveries is expected which could result in a growth of “dark kitchens”, which are (often) window less structures with no option for the public to eat in or collect food.
It is reported that the points based immigration system may led to shortages within the sector.
Key questions to prevent and identify labour exploitation
• How do you ensure workers on site know their workplace rights, and that they have a written contract?
• Do you conduct background checks on any agencies supplying you with labour?
• Do you have any additional due diligence checks for workers at risk of being exploited? Including access to translation services?
• What worker welfare systems do you have in place? Do you have a publicised reporting process for complaints by workers?
• 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?
• Are you identifying and sharing opportunities for best practice in tackling modern slavery and labour exploitation within the food service sector?
What to consider when reporting intelligence
Example: Employees at a takeaway are treated badly, work extremely long hours and receive a low wage.
What further information will assist the GLAA?
Provide more details about the workers involved:
- Do you know what language they speak or what nationality they are?
- Do any appear to be minors?
- Male or female?
- Are workers employed in the kitchen or front of house?
- What hours do they work?
- How many potential victims are there?
- How are workers arriving, are there vehicle details?
- In what way are workers treated badly?
- Have threats been made?
- Any indicators of physical violence?
- How much are workers being paid?
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.
More information about the Food Service industry is available at https://www.gla.gov.uk/whats-new/press-release-archive/03092018-is-the-person-serving-your-food-being-exploited/
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.