This page provides information about how to stay safe from exploitation in London and organisations to contact if you need help and support.
Many people from Romania travel to London following offers of employment opportunities and promises of a better life. There are reports that, on arrival in London, the jobs were not as promised with many citing experiences of exploitative working conditions. These include:
- deductions in salaries (due to costs of travel, accommodation, documents, or other)
- working excessive hours with no or little breaks
- poor living conditions
- threats, intimidation, or abuse
- withholding of wages
If you have experienced any of the above, this could be exploitation and should not be tolerated.
If you moved to London for a job, but it is not what you were promised, there is help available. Some of the organisations listed on this page can help with human trafficking related issues, as well as legal, housing, employment, and immigration advice.
Please note that your rights in the UK depend on the legality of your immigration status.
- If you do not have EU Settled Status, pre-settled status, or a work visa, you do not have the right to work and may be at risk of being exploited. You could seek advice from someone qualified to give legal advice , such as an immigration solicitor or advisor.
- If you have been trafficked to the UK, you may be entitled to support through the National Referral Mechanism, which some organisations listed below can help you with. You can find out more about what being trafficked means below, under ‘Indicators of suspicious and/or exploitative recruitment’ and ‘Indicators of Labour Exploitation’.
- If you have legal status in the UK and have the right to work, but are being treated poorly, you may be entitled to various support and to specific working rights, listed below under ‘Your Rights at Work’.
How to Stay Safe from Exploitation in London
Some people offering you a job may want to take advantage of you if you do not speak English or do not know the UK system well.
They may cross the line between cash-in-hand work and exploitation.
Here are 4 things you should do to keep yourself safe from exploitation:
Please know that this list is not exclusive. You may experience exploitation in any job sector. If this is the case, there is help available to you.
You should not be deceived or coerced at any point during the recruitment process.
This includes being deceived about your work conditions or nature of the job, the legality of your work and immigration status, your living conditions, or your wages.
You and your loved ones should not be threatened, detained, trapped in debt, and your money or personal documents should not be withheld from you.
If you have experienced any of the above, know this should not be tolerated and there are organisations that can help you.
You should be suspicious of any recruitment process which has any of the following characteristics:
You can report suspicious job ads within The STOP APP.
A contract is a written agreement about the work you will be doing, how much you will get paid, the hours you will work, how much holiday you will get, and other terms.
The contract should not be entirely in favour of the person giving you work and should not make you renounce your labour rights.
You should not have to experience any of the following at work:
- Being denied breaks, rest, and/or annual leave
- Being subject to intimidation, coercion, and/or physical or emotional abuse
- Living in uncomfortable and unhygienic accommodation provided by your work
- Being forced to do something you are uncomfortable with
- Being withheld your wages, or paid less than your full agreed salary
- Having deductions from your salary to pay back for a recruitment debt (no one has the right to force someone to work for them, even if money is owed).
- Working in unsafe conditions
- Restricted or no access to your earnings
- No access to your passport or identity documents
- Restricted movement
If you have experienced any of the above, know this should not be tolerated and there are organisations that can help you.
You can report such incidents within The STOP APP. If possible, document all violations at work in the form of photo/video materials. If anyone is in immediate danger, or a crime is being or has been committed, call the emergency services.
Make sure to make a note of what happened, including details of:
If you have the right to work in the UK, you are entitled to specific labour rights which depend on your employment status. These may include:
- Protection from discrimination
- A safe working environment
- Earning the National Minimum Wage
- Receiving a contract and payslips
- Being protected from unlawful deductions of wages
- Rest breaks
- Paid annual leave
- Maternity/paternity pay
- and others
The Work Rights Centre listed below can provide advice on your employment rights.
The National Minimum Wage is the minimum pay almost all workers are entitled to. In the UK, there is a minimum wage set by the government, and no worker or employee in this country may earn less than this mandatory wage rate. There are some exceptions for minors, some live-in nannies, volunteers, some trainees, and some farm workers. You should seek advice if you are unsure about this.
The National Minimum Wage in the UK depends on your age:
- 18-20 Year Old Rate: £7.49 per hour
- 21-22 Year Old Rate: £10.18 per hour
- 23+ Year Old Rate: £10.42 per hour
These rates will likely change in 2024.
For information about other National Minimum Wages in other countries, you can visit this website for further details.
Please know there are organisations that try to help people in your situation. You can find details for help and support organisations below.
Details of support organisations
Have you or someone you know have been mistreated, exploited, or need legal/housing/welfare/immigration advice ? If yes, please contact these organisations for free confidential help and advice. Some of these organisations are specific to those living in Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, and Westminster.
Please mention STOP THE TRAFFIK if you make contact with any of the organisations listed below.
STOP THE TRAFFIK cannot provide any direct frontline support, but we can signpost you to organisations who can.
If you or anyone you know are in immediate danger, call the 112 European Emergency Number. The number is free of charge, 24/7, anywhere in the European Union and UK. Citizens can dial 112 to reach the emergency services, including the police, emergency medical services and the fire brigade.
116111 European Helpline for Children and Adolescents
The European Helpline for Children and Adolescents provides psychological support for free to children and adolescents. The service helps children in need of care and protection and links them to services and resources. The helpline operates on a 24/7 basis, 365 days a year. Calls to the helpline are free of charge.
Your local council
If you are an adult or a child with care and support needs, you can get in touch with your local council. They may be able to assist you. You can find your local council on the link included below.
Modern Slavery and Exploitation Helpline
The modern slavery and exploitation helpline provides information, advice, and guidance about any modern slavery issue relating to potential victims, businesses, and the public in the whole of the UK. We are free, confidential, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and available in 200 languages.
The Moving on Project (London) provides tailored, one-to-one support and a drop-in service to women affected by modern slavery across the London community. We offer a wide variety of support, including Casework in support of Employment and Education, Physical and Mental Wellbeing, Community Integration, Independent Living and Access to Justice. We have an interpreter service available, allowing us to provide this support in over 100 different languages, including Albanian and Romanian. For more information, referrals or self-referrals please contact [email protected] or [email protected]
The Salvation Army
If you, or someone you know, suspect you might be a victim of modern slavery and are in need of help, you can call The Salvation Army Referral Helpline. It is free, confidential, and available 24/7. This is for individuals over 18 from within England and Wales. We will connect you with First Responders who will speak to you about what happened and pass this information to decision-makers to see if you can access specialist support.
Are you homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless? If so, Shelter can offer you advice, support and guidance with housing, benefit and debt problems. Their free emergency helpline is open 365 days a year to answer calls if you are homeless, have nowhere to stay tonight, are worried about losing your home in the next two months or are at risk of harm or abuse: 0808 800 4444 (Monday to Friday, 8am – 8pm. Weekends and bank holidays, 9am – 5pm). Their London-specific phone lines are also open Monday to Friday 9:30am to 6pm. If you are under 25 years old, call 0330 053 6091. If you are over 25 years old, call 0344 515 1540. You can request a Romanian translator when you speak to an adviser on the phone
The Passage's vision is of a society where homelessness no longer exists, and everyone has a place to call home. The Passage is a homelessness charity based in Westminster which provides practical support and services to help change the lives of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The Passage runs a modern Resource Centre near Victoria train station, four accommodation projects, outreach services that offer help to people currently experiencing street homelessness, health services, homelessness prevention schemes and a modern slavery support programme. Services include: Initial assessment and advice. Showers, toilets and laundry. Breakfast and lunch service. Benefits advice. Housing advice. Mental health support. Access to Nurses and GPs. Education and employment training. Welfare rights advice. Support groups. By offering individuals long term and bespoke support alongside accommodation support, The Passage works to ensure that their cycle of homelessness ends for good. During the day, we recommend you visit our Resource centre, St Vincent’s Centre, Carlisle Place, London, SW1P 1NL (Monday – Friday : 9am – 12pm and 1pm – 3:30pm). Otherwise, you can contact Streetlink. By sharing your location and details with Streetlink, this will allow The Passage Community Outreach team, local authorities, and other homelessness organisations to find you and offer support.
Glass Door Homeless Charity
Glass Door Homeless Charity provides shelter and support to people experiencing homelessness. We run London’s largest emergency winter night shelter between November and April, and a year-round casework service providing advice, advocacy, and practical support. Glass Door Caseworkers are based in drop-in day centres in the London boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, Richmond and Wandsworth. Some of the day centres provide hot meals, clothing, and washing facilities.
East European Resource Centre
East European Resource Centre is an organisation working with vulnerable and disadvantaged Eastern Europeans since 1984. We provide information, support and advice to EE communities with welfare benefits rights, immigration, domestic abuse and violence against women, and hate crime. For Romanian or English language, call 07730021986 (Monday to Thursday, 10:00 – 16:00). For EUSS questions, you can email [email protected]. For General advice, email [email protected]
Work Rights Centre
The Work Rights Centre is a registered charity (No. 1165419) that supports migrants and disadvantaged Britons to access employment justice, and improve their social mobility. Every week our caseworkers in London and Manchester help people fight unscrupulous employers, apply for jobs, access benefits when they're struggling, or secure their immigration status. Our advice is free, confidential, and available in a range of languages, including Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian, Bulgarian, and Spanish.
Citizens Advice Kensington & Chelsea
At Citizens Advice Kensington and Chelsea, we believe no one should have to face problems without good quality, independent advice. We providing free, confidential, impartial and independent advice about benefits, debt, housing, legal, health, employment, consumer rights, and immigration issues. That’s why we’re here: we work within the local community in Kensington & Chelsea to give people the knowledge and the confidence they need to find their way forward - whoever they are, and whatever their problem. You can contact us on the phone through Adviceline or through their weekly drop-in service. If you have a friend or family member who speaks English, we advise you to bring them with you. Adviceline: 0800 144 8848 (9am-5pm, Monday to Friday). If you call from a mobile, we’ll ask you to enter a local landline number on your keypad.
Citizens Advice Westminster
At Citizens Advice Westminster, we provide free advice for Westminster residents; or those who are homeless (with no connection to anywhere outside Westminster). We can help with benefits, debt and money advice, housing and homelessness, health and community care, employment advice, immigration and nationality, consumer rights, and crime and noise problems. You can call 0808 278 7834 (Monday-Friday, 9:30-4pm) and selection option 4. We also have drop-in services available on Zoom: https://www.westminstercab.org.uk/contact-us/, and face to face support.
Citizens Advice Hammersmith and Fulham
At Citizens Advice Hammersmith and Fulham, we provide free, confidential, impartial advice on welfare benefits, debt, housing, employment and consumer rights. Our service is available to anyone who lives, works or studies in Hammersmith & Fulham. You can call 0808 278 7832 (Monday to Friday, 10am-4pm), contact us through our online form, or attend our drop-in services Shepherd’s Bush Market, Uxbridge Road end, W12 Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: 10am-3pm / Avonmore Library, North End Road, London W14 8TG Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 10am-2pm.
Hope For Justice
Hope for Justice offers an advocacy advice service that provides tailored and specialist advocacy and signposting to support a survivor to understand their socio-legal rights and entitlements, as well as identify where legal remedies are available to them. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you, or if you are facing any challenges or have any questions relating to your modern slavery rights and entitlements in the UK, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our multilingual team via [email protected] / [email protected], or call us on 0300 008 8000. Our working days are Monday to Friday. We are able to provide over the phone interpretation as required.
You can contact the Romanian embassy who maybe able to offer advice. However it is very important to only contact the embassy if you feel it is safe to do.
Information about human trafficking
Human trafficking is the movement or recruitment of people, either through deception, coercion or force for the purpose of exploitation. Traffickers often profit financially from exploiting people.
Organ traffickers sometimes forcibly remove organs without consent or through coercion. This is illegal and dangerous. It could cost you your life.
There are many ways people might be lured and trapped into exploitation, including:
You might be offered help with travel and shelter in exchange for payment later. Don’t agree unless you know all the details. This is a method traffickers use to control and exploit people and an example of debt bondage.
It is very important that whatever choice you make, you ensure you put your safety as a top priority
Traffickers have many faces. They can be any age, gender or nationality.
Survivors often say they were trafficked by partners, spouses, friends, even family members.
- Traffickers are usually motivated by financial gain and are masters in the art of deception.
- They know how to gain trust and make you feel special.
- They often target people with offers of friendship.
- They may buy you gifts, give you money or offer you drugs or alcohol.
Unfortunately, traffickers’ prey upon people in a vulnerable situation. When trust is established, the trafficker’s kind behaviour may change, and they become controlling, even violent. Their aim was to lure you in, only to control and exploit you. They may convince you that the situation, even the abuse, is normal.
You can report any suspicious activity on The STOP APP.
Traffickers often force people into doing things they don’t want to do. They will pressure and force people to stay in the situation using threats and intimidation.
Control methods include:
If you have found yourself in a situation you want to escape, there are organisations that can help you.
Report an incident on The STOP APP
The STOP APP enables anybody who knows, has seen or heard, or already experienced a situation that they believe to be human trafficking, to talk about it in a safe and secure space. You can report the incident anonymously and securely through the STOP APP. There will be no record of the report submitted on your phone.
- Have you seen a suspicious job advert online?
- Has someone offered you work that seemed suspicious?
- Are you or someone you know being forced to work, or being exploited?
Let us know. You can report your suspicions or observations by downloading our STOP APP. Make sure you are in safe place away from the suspected incident when making the report.
STOP THE TRAFFIK is a human trafficking prevention organisation. This app collects individuals’ stories of global human trafficking to disrupt and prevent this crime. We are not a rescue organisation and this app is not monitored 24/7 but will be checked on the next working day. If anyone is in immediate danger or a crime has been committed please contact trusted authorities.
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