An EU-wide coordinated action week targeting human trafficking for labour exploitation and related offences took place between 15 and 21 June 2022. The action days, supported by Europol, were led by the Netherlands and co-led by France, Italy, Romania and the United Kingdom and involved 29* countries in total as well as the European Labour Authority and the European Commission.
A wide range of law enforcement authorities including police, immigration and border guards, labour inspectorates and tax authorities took part in the coordinated operational activities.
These coordinated actions were implemented as part of the European multidisciplinary platform against criminal threats, known as EMPACT. Established to improve synergies between different institutions fighting serious and organised crime, EMPACT has enabled cooperation between law enforcement and regulatory authorities targeting labour exploitation.
The action week mobilised almost 18 500 officers, who searched more than 10 467 locations, 32 525 vehicles and more than 86 000 persons to detect different administrative infringements and criminal offences. These checks led to the detection of a significant number of companies linked to infringements of employment law.
About 500 individuals who had been working undeclared were identified during the inspections. This means the employers in question did not ensure that their employees had access to healthcare, insurance in case of accidents, or any other social benefits and rights that they were entitled to according to employment law.
The action week led to:
- 59 arrests;
- 487 possible victims of different types of exploitation identified;
- About 1 100 workers affected by labour infringements;
- 514 employers linked to labour infringements;
- 34 forged documents detected;
- ~80 new investigations initiated;
- 715 new inspections/administrative investigations.
Restaurants, healthcare and the mining sector under scrutiny
This year’s inspections focused on a number of labour-intensive sectors such as mining, home healthcare services, nail bars, cleaning services, restaurants and food delivery services. Vietnamese nationals are especially vulnerable to labour exploitation, predominantly in nail bars. Home healthcare is also a sector that is susceptible to exploitation.
This is especially difficult to detect as it happens behind the closed doors of households. Eastern European nationals often fall victim to domestic servitude with reports of cases in Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Authorities also focused on detecting the possible exploitation of Ukrainian refugees.
EU Member States: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.
Third party countries: Norway, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
Europol coordinated the action days and facilitated the information exchange between the participating countries. Europol provided analytical and operational support on a 24/7 basis and facilitated the real-time exchange of communication between the participating authorities.
Headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands, Europol supports the 27 EU Member States in their fight against terrorism, cybercrime, and other serious and organized crime forms. Europol also works with many non-EU partner states and international organisations. From its various threat assessments to its intelligence-gathering and operational activities, Europol has the tools and resources it needs to do its part in making Europe safer.