The number of labor exploitation reports processed by the inspection body increased after 2018. In previous years, about seventy cases fluctuated. In 2019, it actually rose to 106, according to the report. The following year the number rose to 160, an inspectorate spokesperson has now reported.
But there are no longer criminal cases. In 2016, more than a quarter of reports led to an investigation, in 2019 only 4 percent. It has bounced back a bit last year, according to the inspectorate. 10 per cent of the 160 reports are now being investigated.
“We are very constrained by legislation” explains the law’s spokesperson, as an explanation for the low number of criminal cases. “The concept of labor exploitation should be interpreted more broadly. Now it is exploitation only if, for example, someone’s passport is taken away or if someone is not allowed to leave the site. But not if someone only gets five euros an hour. .”
Getting around through administrative law
In order to treat the offenders, the Inspectorate is also trying to follow another path, which is the path of administrative law. In 2019, the SZW inspection body increased the number of inspectors from four to ten. The result was: the number of violations discovered increased from 16 in 2017 to 37 in 2019. But the number of fines remained almost the same.
“Recruitment agencies became more sophisticated during that period,” the spokesperson said. “If you fine them, they will file for bankruptcy on Monday and set up a new employment agency on Wednesday. Administrative law is an emergency measure, but of course it is not a deterrent like criminal law.”
change the law
The House of Representatives is now calling for the law to be amended. Today’s proposal was passed by BIJ1 and GroenLinks as the government was asked to “explore how to broaden the legal definition of labor exploitation, so that mistreatment and exploitation of migrant workers in the Netherlands becomes punishable”.
The Audit Bureau submits a similar appeal to the Minister of Social Affairs. In response to the report, the Minister stated that the government also considers amending the law desirable. But: “This requires a missionary government.” So it is still waiting for formation.
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