Topic 4 The basics of the country’s labour market and the risks of Labour Exploitation – how to identify and report labour exploitation

In Lithuania, criminal and civil/administrative legislation defines the norms under which a violation of working conditions will be considered as labour exploitation and dealt with by public authorities. Criminal legal acts deal with human trafficking and forced labour. Civil and/or administrative legislation defines what constitutes undeclared work, employment without a valid contract, withholding of wages by the employer, unpaid overtime and biased termination of the employment contract.

All forms of trafficking in human beings, including exploitation for forced labour or services and the use of a person’s forced labour or services, are criminal offences. These provisions are integrated in the following articles under the Criminal Code: Article 147 Human Trafficking, Article 1471 Exploitation of Forced Labour or Services, Article 1472 Usage of A Person’s Forced Labour or Services, Article 157 Sale and Purchase of A Child, Article 2921 Work of A National Illegally Staying in the Republic of Lithuania, Article 307 Profiting from Prostitution Performed by Another Person and Article 308 Involvement in Prostitution (Severe forms of Labour Exploitation, 2014).

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Examples of abusive recruitment and labour exploitation of migrant workers:

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    Taking of passports, identity cards, bank cards, work permits
  • Violence and threats
  • Insufficient or unpaid wages
  • Slaving for debts
  • Secret contract terms, illegal deductions from wages and excessive high interest rates on loans
  • Increased prices for housing, food, transport and other necessities
  • Control of workers’ freedom and movement
  • Unlawful deductions from wages for tools, compulsory certificates, etc.
  • Excessive working hours without overtime pay, without compulsory bonuses for evening, night and weekend work
  • Failure to guarantee the right to holidays and holiday pay
  • Isolation, denial of access to others and family
  • Prohibition from attending language courses
  • Threats of dismissal, reporting the worker to the authorities, returning the worker to the country of origin
  • Threats not to allocate sufficient working days/hours to ensure a minimum income to renew the work permit
  • Unlawful recruitment fees
  • Misleading information on job content, contracts, working conditions and work permits
  • Prohibition to join a trade union
  • Unsafe and unhealthy working and living environments
  • Failure to guarantee the right to medical care

The institutional mechanism to prevent and combat labour exploitation includes government bodies:

  • the police
  • the State Labour Inspectorate and local labour inspectorates
  • the Lithuanian Employment Service (Lietuvos užimtumo tarnyba
  • the Ombudsman for Children’s Rights (Vaiko teisių apsaugos kontrolieriaus įstaiga)
  • the Refugees’ Reception Centre
  • the Foreigners’ Registration Centre
  • the Prosecutor General’s Office and the courts
  • intergovernmental organisations, such as the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Vilnius Office (Tarptautinės migracijos organizacijos Vilniaus biuras)
  • non-governmental organisations (NGOs): Caritas Lithuania (Lietuvos Caritas), the Lithuanian Red Cross Society (Lietuvos Raudonojo Kryžiaus draugija)
  • individual experts (lawyers and independent advocates)

If migrants think that the employer fails to carry out its obligations under the employment contract or violates their rights in another way, they may address the standing Commission for Labour Disputes under the regional division of the State Labour Inspectorate.

The State Labour Inspectorate is assigned the function to carry out the control of undeclared work as well as to coordinate activities of institutions carrying out control of undeclared work in accordance with the procedure established by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania. The State Labour Inspectorate by controlling the compliance with laws regulating labour relations, inspects compliance with the provisions of the Labour Code, among them – related with employment contracts, work pay, organisation of work and rest, as well as the enforcement of relevant resolutions of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania and orders of the Ministry of Social Security and Labour.

Other functions of the State Labour Inspectorate include identifying and declaring the most risky sectors of activity in which third-country nationals work illegally. The State Labour Inspectorate applies specific measures to sanction entities that abuse the labour of third-country nationals. Special attention should be paid if working conditions of third-country nationals are in reality worse than those legally established by law.

To find out more visit the official State Labour Inspectorate website:


E. inquiry:

The activities of the Lithuanian Employment Service are not directly related to the exploitation or prevention of migrant labour. However, the Lithuanian Employment Service, as a state institution, is obliged to inform other institutions if such cases are identified. The basis for the activities of the Employment Service is the Law on Public Administration, which provides a framework for cooperation with other institutions in the exchange of information and experience. The Employment Service monitors whether workers are discriminated against on all possible grounds and works directly with foreigners, as the Employment Service inspects employers and looks for violations of working conditions and workers’ rights. These checks are carried out to monitor whether foreigners’ work is organised in accordance with their employment contracts.

The Lithuanian Employment Service offices at county level monitor whether the work of foreigners is organised as per the terms of their contracts. The employment service looks at if foreigners are working in the specific role that is indicated in their labour contracts. It means that inspectors examine documents related to work permits. Every migrant worker is checked. A planned inspection is carried out under the framework of regulations approved by the Lithuanian Employment Service.

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