Topic 4 Risks of Labour Exploitation – how to identify and report labour exploitation

Starting from January 1, 2022, the Inspectorate SZW (Inspectie SZW) responsible for Social Affairs and Employment will be known as the “Netherlands Labour Authority” (Nederlandse Arbeidsinspectie).

The term “labor exploitation” can be referred to situations in which an employee is subjected to substandard working conditions or has their wages withheld for completed work, either voluntarily or through some form of coercion. Labour exploitation is a serious criminal offence in the Netherlands.

Human trafficking is a serious crime with the intention of exploiting people in employment or services.These cases are against the Dutch social security system, the Constitution, and fundamental human rights.

In extra intense cases, exploitation will additionally consist of situations with the use of pressure, deception, or blackmail from employers. The Dutch Labour Authority strives for social and economic security for all workers as well as honest, healthy, and safe working conditions.

Exploitation is widespread and certainly not limited to prostitution but exists in every branch of employment or service which often affects groups of vulnerable people like home carers, general service (car wash), production, and seasonal workers (agriculture).

Although labor exploitation is not specifically defined in Dutch criminal law, it is an offense under trafficking in human beings.

The third-country nationals TCN being migrants stand their vulnerability. Their vulnerability was exacerbated by their lack of the knowledge of Dutch language, the country culture, their rights, and who to turn to in the event of a problem.They were put at greater risk because they were unaware of their rights as workers and what constitutes labour exploitation in the Netherlands. This was especially true for migrants from nations where general labour conditions are comparable to exploitation.

Their lack of familiarity with the Dutch language, the country, their rights, and where to turn to in case problems arise all added to their vulnerability. Not knowing their rights as workers and what constitutes labour exploitation in the Netherlands placed them at greater risk, especially migrants from countries where general labour conditions are similar to exploitation

One of the challenges facing the labour inspectorate is insufficient cooperation between those who monitor workplaces and those who investigate labour exploitation (i.e. between monitoring and enforcement)

Lack of cooperation between those who investigate labor exploitation and monitor workplaces (i.e., enforcement and monitoring) is one of the challenges facing the Netherlandse Arbeidsinspectie.

  • The worker receives less payment than they should be in accordance with the law and the collective agreement
  • No off days for the worker 
  • Extra hours without compensation 
  • Sick leave is not granted 
  • The worker is charged for getting the job and a residence permit
  • No access to occupational health services.

In the Netherlands, everyone has the right to be treated equally. Because of its significance, Article 1 of the Dutch Constitution protects this right.

To report or to get help, kindly call either the national discrimination helpline on 0900 235 4354 or Den Haag discrimination helpline on 0707528200.

For all the contact details of  antidiscrimination services and discrimination reporting offices visit their website: