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Ministry of Justice

Forced labour

People working in a field

Guidance on the new offence: Holding someone in slavery or servitude, or requiring forced or compulsory labour.


The Coroners and Justice Act 2009 introduced a new offence of holding someone in slavery or servitude, or requiring forced or compulsory labour. The offence came into force on 6 April 2010 and applies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The law makes it easier to prosecute those accused of exploiting some of the most vulnerable people in society. Forced labour requires a level of coercion or deception far beyond that of a normal employment arrangement. Employers who are acting within the current law are unlikely to be affected by the offence.

The following guidance explains more about the offence and where to go for further help and advice.