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null New cooperation model for the prevention and supervision of the exploitation of migrant workers

New cooperation model for the prevention and supervision of the exploitation of migrant workers

Publication date 10.6.2022 9.30
News item

Efficient supervision of labour migration requires close cooperation between the authorities. For the authorities to collaborate systematically and to jointly choose the targets of supervision, clear leadership and powers are required.

Together with a number of public authorities, the Police University College has prepared a new cooperation model for multi-authority action to prevent and supervise the exploitation of migrant workers. The cooperation model is presented in the report that outlines the key results of the project ‘Creating policy models for the police to support the planned management of multi-authority action’, implemented by the Police University College. The report states that successful multi-authority action is based on active and motivated planning, joint implementation of the activities, and provision of feedback.

“When risk-based targeted supervision is implemented in accordance with the cooperation model, it is possible to establish uniform procedures for multi-authority action throughout Finland. This will facilitate more consistency in the leadership of operations and the detection of and intervention in cases of exploitation of migrant workers,” says researcher Kimmo Kuukasjärvi from the Police University College. 

“In the cooperation model, risk-based targeted supervision comprises three stages: planning, implementation and feedback and follow-up measures. The exchange of information between the authorities must be a low-threshold activity. It is important that the roles and responsibilities of each authority are specifically planned, so that the actual supervision event can be implemented efficiently,” says Tarja Valsi, Deputy Director at Finnish Tax Administration. 

Mobile application communicates information about employee rights and obligations 

The project also developed a mobile application called ‘Work Help Finland’ for migrant workers coming to Finland or already staying in Finland. The application shares information about the rights and obligations of employees and the key parties that provide help. Persons in a vulnerable position are a special target group, for example if they suspect having been exploited.  

“The content of the application has been translated into 24 languages, to enable migrant workers to access information about the rights and obligations of employees in their native language,” says Superintendent Olavi Kujanpää. 

The content of the application complies with the information package Working in Finland, available on the website of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, but provides more comprehensive information about the obligations of employees as well. The application does not collect any identifying information about its users, and it is available for downloading, free of charge, in app stores.

“In the course of practical supervision in the field, it has been noted that for example the insufficient language skills of migrant workers significantly restrict their possibilities to get and find information. In such cases, the workers only get information provided by their employer or “fellow countrymen” and intermediaries. Unfortunately, such information is often distorted. The new application has been developed to address this problem,” says Minna Willman-Koistinen, Senior Specialist at Finnish Food Authority.

“The application completes the range of methods available for various public authorities in preventive work, and it enables sharing information about working in Finland with foreign employees at a low threshold,” says Katja-Pia Jenu, Senior Officer serving as Occupational Safety and Health Inspector. 

Labour exploitation has been prevented for more than two decades 

As part of the project, the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control (HEUNI) prepared a review of how Finland has tackled the exploitation of migrant workers and labour trafficking. The wake-up call to the phenomenon came in the early 2000s, but particularly in the past decade, action against exploitation has progressed and become an established part of the operating field of various authorities and other parties.

“More victims of labour exploitation are identified in Finland than in the other Nordic countries. According to our analysis, this is related to the fact that we understand labour exploitation as a broader phenomenon,” says Anniina Jokinen, Senior Programme Officer at HEUNI.

Even though several positive steps have been taken in the action against human trafficking and labour exploitation, many problems related to criminal liability and victims’ rights still come to light. According to the report by HEUNI, systematic multi-authority cooperation is crucial for a comprehensive approach to these problems, one that  takes into account victims’ rights and enhances employees’ awareness of their rights.

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