Examination of Witnesses

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:21 pm on 12th February 2019.

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Caroline Robinson:

From the brief discussion with my colleague from the TUC, I believe she mentioned the illegal working offence, which I think we were talking about during the passage of the Immigration Act 2016. We would certainly support a discussion of the repeal of that offence, which we raised at the time. It places workers at great risk of exploitation. It is recognised by the Government and by the International Labour Organisation that the threat of denunciation to the authorities, regardless of a worker’s status, is a contributing factor to coercion and exploitation. As we mentioned at the beginning, the real risk to workers of the coercive power of an offence of illegal working is extremely dangerous in relation to modern slavery.

I raised at the time the fact that people would be fearful of coming forward to be referred to the UK national referral mechanism because of that offence, that traffickers would use the threat of the offence of illegal working to keep people in abusive and exploitative conditions, and that there is then the risk of criminalisation and detention of trafficked persons. The detention of trafficked persons is something that we have seen recently, and the difficulties of individuals being identified once they are in detention.