Human trafficking for sexual exploitation has traditionally receivied most attention in Germany, compared to other forms of exploitation. Nevertheless, a growing attention on labour exploitation has developed over the past years. This study explores the issue and presents recommendations on how to protect migrant workers from labour exploitation. Most labour exploitation cases occur in low-wage sectors, such as the meat processing industry, construction, the agricultural sector, transport and logistics industry, the cleaning sector, hotel and hospitality as well as the care sector. This work is mostly carried out by migrants due to low qualification requirement.
The current pandemic and the closure of borders has revealed the huge demand for migrant labour in Germany. Particularly affected sectors were the agricultural and care sectors. Despite the general entry ban and the social distancing rules, over 40.000 seasonal workers were brought into Germany during 2020. Additionally, the pandemic exposed the unacceptable working conditions in the meat processing industry after over 2.000 workers were infected with the COVID-19 virus. As a result, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is preparing a new law which will further regulate work contracts and temporary employments of migrant workers in Germany. In spite of this positive development, there are further recommendations – especially in the field of labour law – that are necessary to take into account and implement in order to advance the rights of the migrant workers who risk being subjected to human trafficking for forced labour and labour exploitation.