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Recrutiment & Employment Confederation

Fees charged to migrant workers to work in the UK

Legal news and views

Lorraine  Laryea  avatar

Written by Lorraine Laryea Recruitment Standards Director

The Observer recently published an article which highlights the plight of some migrant workers who are targeted in oversees countries and charged fees to be found work in the UK. The workers featured have mainly ended up working in the care sector – as a result of the drive by the UK government to fill more than 100,000 care job vacancies. 

In the UK, charging workers to find work is illegal. It also breaches the rules set by the ILO (International Labour Organisation).

The article details practices being used to target people mainly in low-income countries and, cites the findings of an undercover reporter who identified a business in India seeking to charge around 1.7 million rupees (around £17,800) as a service charge to candidates seeking low paid work in care homes in the UK. 

As the article goes on to state - the practice sees workers left in significant debt and held trapped in ‘debt bondage’ paying off the fees that they have been charged, often finding that their immigration documents are held until they have paid off the money. 

The article also reports on workers trafficked illegally into the UK and forced to work in the care sector using illegal immigration documents. There is no reference to specific legitimate recruitment businesses in the UK being involved in these actions, however, the article is a good reminder that all recruiters and employers in the care sector and other sectors in the UK need to ensure that they have effective procedures in place to identify modern slavery.  

Support for recruiters and other employers

Unseen – a charity which tackles modern slavery has provided a specific SME toolkit and information and resources to support employers to implement measures to identify modern slavery. This helps employers to reduce the risk of inadvertently working with those who seek to exploit vulnerable workers. Unseen also runs a Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline and provide specialised training for staff - REC members get up to 20% discount on our expert range of worker exploitation training and consultancy services.