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Action to be taken to prevent the exploitation of foreign labour

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
Publication date 20.8.2020 10.00 | Published in English on 20.8.2020 at 14.33
Press release
Työministeri Tuula Haatainen

As part of the strategy for combating the grey economy, Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen appointed a working group in spring 2020 to prepare measures to combat labour exploitation. The working group has now completed its first set of measures.

– This set of measures sets us on a new course in our actions to prevent the exploitation of foreign labour. Moving forward, more emphasis will be placed on protecting victims, and steps will be taken to make things difficult for employers guilty of exploitation, Minister Haatainen says.

Exploitation of foreign labour is a lucrative business for the exploiters, and it is usually systematic and organised. However, not being immediately visible to outsiders, exploitation as a phenomenon is often overlooked, nor do the authorities, the public contracts system or the business sector sufficiently recognise exploitation as a problem.

– The exploitation of foreign labour is one manifestation of the grey economy. It involves more than just failure to pay taxes and other contributions; at worst, it involves gross human exploitation. In fact, exploitation economy would be a more descriptive term for this type of conduct than grey economy.

– As Minister of Employment, I am responsible for both labour migration and actions to combat the grey economy. Under my leadership, we will make sure both issues will be addressed to prevent the exploitation of foreign labour. The only way to promote labour migration is to ensure we have measures in place to stop any illegal activities, Haatainen concludes.

Actions to combat the exploitation of foreign labour represent an integral part of a sustainable, fair and mutually beneficial labour migration policy. Exploitation is closely linked to the grey economy as a wider phenomenon. Tackling the grey economy and economic crime is one of the Government’s objectives. The Government resolution on a strategy and an action plan for tackling the grey economy and economic crime for 2020–2023 provides guidelines for further action and for measures to promote a fair labour market.

– The grey economy is a phenomenon that changes constantly. Political decision-makers and authorities must remain alert and vigilant so that we can proactively identify various forms of the grey economy and intervene with appropriate measures.  Exploitation must be recognised as a phenomenon that requires a more stringent approach. We are now taking action on a wide front, by developing legislation and by creating better operating conditions for the supervisory authorities, Minister Haatainen explains.

Legislative amendments and other measures in the pipeline

The set of measures prepared by the working group consists of 14 proposals for legislative measures, measures related to the guidance provided by the authorities, and measures designed to improve cooperation.

The working group proposes a more effective system for targeting the sanctions at employers guilty of exploitation. The working group also proposes making more resources available to the authorities and enhancing cooperation between the authorities by improving the exchange of information and the use of surveillance and other data.

Some of the proposals may be implemented during autumn 2020. The working group will prepare further measures and continue its work until the end of 2021.

Timo Nevaranta, Special Adviser to the Minister of Employment, tel. +358 50 574 1430
Olli Sorainen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 504 8022
Päivi Kantanen, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 504 8938

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