Modern slavery covers a set of specific legal concepts including forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, slavery and slavery-like practices, and human trafficking. Although modern slavery is not defined in law, it is used as an umbrella term that focuses attention on commonalities across these legal concepts. Essentially, it refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, and/or abuse of power.
Forced labour is defined by ILO Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29) as “all work or service that is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily.” While forced labour may be particularly widespread in certain economic activities or industries, a forced labour situation is determined by the nature of the relationship between a person and an “employer” and not by the type of activity performed, however arduous or hazardous the conditions of work may be, nor by its legality or illegality under national law. For example, a woman forced into commercial sexual exploitation is in a forced situation because of its involuntary nature and the menace she is facing, regardless of the dangers and hazards she faces in this work or whether it is permitted by law. In recent years, the ILO has focused on the two criteria embedded in the Convention No. 29, namely, “involuntariness” and “menace of penalty” with regard to determining forced labour of adults and forced labour of children.”
Forced labour of adults is defined, for purposes of measurement, as work for which a person has not offered him or herself voluntarily (criterion of “involuntariness”) and which is performed under coercion (criterion of “menace of penalty”) applied by an employer or a third party. The coercion may take place during the worker’s recruitment process to force him or her to accept the job or, once the person is working, to force him or her to do tasks that were not part of what was agreed to at the time of recruitment or to prevent him or her from leaving the job.
Forced labour of children is defined, for purposes of measurement, as work performed by a child under coercion applied by a third party (other than his or her parents) either to the child or to the child’s parents, or work performed by a child as a direct consequence of his or her parent or parents being engaged in forced labour. The coercion may take place during the child’s recruitment to force the child or his or her parents to accept the job or, once the child is working, to force him or her to do tasks that were not part of what was agreed to at the time of recruitment or to prevent the child from leaving the work.