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Understand the Risks of Forced Labor in Global Supply Chains

Sector – Workforce Characteristics

Some workers are more vulnerable to forced labor risks than others, based mainly on their ability to decline or leave a job.

Vulnerable Workers

Low socioeconomic status, Low-skill, and Low-paid Workers

Industries that employ a high proportion of workers who are poor, landless or otherwise dispossessed, low-skill, and low-paid are inherently at greater risk of forced labor. Access Socioeconomics for more information.

They are typically in need of any work that is available, despite abusive conditions, are easily replaced by other workers like them; as a result, workers have little leverage with which to advocate for their rights in the face of recruiters or employers seeking to profit from their labor illegally. Learn more about Low Margin industries.

Migrant Workers

Internally and Internationally Migrating Workers

Industries that rely heavily on migrant labor are of particularly high risk. Verité has found migrant workers, both internal and international migrants, to be vulnerable to forced labor in a wide variety of sectors and countries. The heavier use of third-party recruitment agencies is a key factor.

As a report by the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants for the United Nations Human Rights Council noted, “migrants are at heightened risk of exploitation and abuse in the workplace, due to:

  • deceptive recruitment practices, both by employers and intermediaries
  • frequent lack of social support systems
  • unfamiliarity with the local culture, language, their rights at work and national labour and migration laws in the country of employment
  • limited or denied access to legal and administrative systems
  • dependence on the job and employer due to migration-related debt, legal status, or employers restricting their freedom to leave the workplace
  • reliance by family members on remittances sent back home by the migrant

These factors are amplified by the discrimination and xenophobia that migrants are increasingly facing everywhere. Migrants are also often limited in their rights to form or join trade unions.

Use RST's interactive map to identify forced labor risks globally, by sector, commodity, and country.