Rights and risks was compiled by The Young Foundation and Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX). Launched today at an event hosted by the Deputy Mayor for Communities and Social Justice, Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard, the report was commissioned by the City Hall to better understand the struggles of migrants and to address the challenges they face.
Through first-hand accounts, the report uncovers bullying, racially motivated harassment, and exploitation in the workplace, with people reporting the use of derogatory terms and slurs; issues with pay; fear over speaking up or seeking formal support about their employee rights.
Rights and risks calls for decisive and urgent action to support those suffering employment rights violations and exploitation, including sustainable funding to ensure consistent access to legal aid.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said:
“This report commissioned by City Hall has uncovered shocking evidence of exploitation of migrant workers across London – consistent with modern slavery.
“Examples of migrant workers in London being subject to long hours, no pay and racial slurs is the opposite of everything our city stands for. It is abundantly clear from the report that migrant Londoners face too many barriers to access the advice and support they desperately need to safeguard them from exploitation and help them to work in dignity.
“That’s why today I’ve announced a £750k investment to extend City Hall’s Migrant Advice and Support Fund to provide specialist services to ensure the most vulnerable migrant Londoners can access their rights and the support they need to build a fairer London for all. I continue to urge the government to take the urgent and decisive long-term action needed to address the employment rights violations and exploitation of migrants.”
This £750k is in addition to funding available for all Londoners via Citizens Advice and London Legal Support Trust, and the Mayor has also commissioned the Work Rights Centre to provide foundational employment rights advice training for 16 migrant and community organisations. As Ministers debate the Illegal Migration Bill in Parliament, the Mayor calls for action to ensure migrants understand their rights, can identify abuses, and have access to the support they need.
Helen Goulden OBE, Chief Executive at The Young Foundation, said:
“Because of the peer-to-peer approach of this research, the migrant workers that took part felt able to speak openly and with arresting honesty. The experiences they share are sometimes shocking.
“The emerging report, Rights and risks, lays bare the realities of abuse, discrimination, and human rights violations taking place in workplaces across London today. It also exposes the serious shortage of capacity to provide advice and support to migrant workers in these situations.
“This vital research must be followed by action, delivering safer, fairer working conditions for all, and routes to recourse for those Londoner’s whose employment rights are abused, or who face exploitation.”