Information on how to: assess risk of forced labor and modern slavery in supply chains, and assess risk from recruitment


Assess the risk of human and labor rights violations 

assess risk of forced labor and modern slavery in supply chains 


  • Conduct a risk assessment of suppliers using publicly available resources to determine high-risk suppliers.

  • For suppliers identified as high-risk, collect data directly from suppliers and conduct a detailed risk assessment. 

    • Conduct this analysis for both current and prospective suppliers.

    • When possible, conduct an onsite visit. 




  • Conduct an internal assessment of own company operations to identify potential human and labor rights risks.

  • Maintain updated documentation about working conditions and labor rights in supply chains to provide to upstream/downstream operations upon request.



1. Understanding the indicators of forced labor:

Understanding the indicators of forced labor, as defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO) is a critical first step for being able to identify risk in supply chains.

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 2. Visualizing risk: 


Use the links below to better understand country risk for child and forced labor for fishing and aquaculture through tools produced by the Responsible Sourcing Tool, the Global Slavery Index, and the Seafood Slavery Index. 

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3. Conducting a risk assessment:


  • Companies should start by assessing risk at the highest level first - beginning at the country level - and then assessing down through suppliers and labor providers.


  • Publicly available information may not go down to the level of individual suppliers; however, it often provides data on countries of production, countries of labor supply, and particular types of supply chains or fisheries within a country of production. 

    • When information is not publicly available, companies can gather it directly from suppliers via self-assessments or questionnaires, or through working with consultancies who can specialize in this field. Though there are limitations with self-assessments, they can be a good starting place.


  • Based on the results of a risk assessment, companies can prioritize which products require further investigation based on severity and scale of risk.


  • Companies can then conduct a detailed risk assessment on high-risk products to understand supplier social responsibility practices, identify what the exact issues are and what improvements are needed.

    • An assessment of social risks can be conducted simultaneously with an assessment of products at risk of being illegally harvested or mislabeled. 

Conducting a high-level risk assessment of human and labor rights conditions in supply chains involves gathering information from a variety of sources, including:​​

  • Gather information on social responsibility practices directly from existing suppliers.

    • This can be done through vendor surveys with questions specifically targeted to identify what social responsibility practices suppliers have in place. Information received from surveys can be used to determine suppliers' risk for human rights abuses, identify gaps in social responsibility practices, and work with the supplier to create a plan of next steps.

    • Supplier self-assessment questionnaires are an additional tool for collecting information from suppliers. 


  • International and national government-produced reports which focus on risk at a country, region, or commodity level.


  • Public tools and risk assessment guides.


  • Third-party consultancies.

Conduct an internal assessment of own company operations to identify potential human and labor rights risks:


In order to understand the risk for labor and human rights abuses, a company must determine whether it has practices in place to:  

  • Assess risks that may be present due to its sourcing regions and specificities (e.g. distant water fishing, subcontracted facilities, etc.).

  • Mitigate and address those risks through company practices intended to unearth and respond to issues that arise.


Additional guidance, tools, and resources to help assess risk

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assess risk from recruitment


  • Assess risk from recruitment at each tier of supply chains, through the following:

    • Require complete disclosure of labor recruiters used, and the recruitment policies and practices of each supplier, including: name of recruiter, address, license number, and license date of expiration.

    • Collect data to assess whether suppliers are complying with company recruitment policies, and assess risk arising from responsible recruitment processes of own company and suppliers.



  • Assess risk arising from responsible recruitment processes of own company and suppliers.

  • Maintain documentation demonstrating that workers are recruited ethically, without having paid illegal or unauthorized fees in order to attain employment.


Risk to workers from unethical recruitment practices

Debt Bondage

When workers must pay exorbitant fees as a condition of obtaining employment, they must often go into debt to come up with the money for their recruitment fees.


The existence of the debt—and the worker’s urgent need to repay it— means that the worker can more easily be manipulated by the employer to accept lower wages than were promised, poor working conditions, excessive work hours, or similar abusive practices.


In this way, debt leads to debt bondage, a form of forced labor, or modern day slavery.








Contract Substitution and Undisclosed Fees

When a recruitment system lacks clear standards for transparency and accountability, risks to workers can arise from differences between the terms of work represented at the point of recruitment and those imposed at the workplace. 

Contract substitution occurs when workers agree to one set of payment terms and working conditions, but find themselves presented with substantially different and inferior terms and conditions once they have already incurred costs and obligations that limit their freedom to refuse imposed changes. Workers may find themselves subject to punitive contract penalty terms not disclosed at the time of recruitment. They may also face excessive fees or non-disclosed charges for recruitment, documentation, transportation, and host-country housing and maintenance.

Social Isolation and Absence of Remedy

International migrants may be isolated not only physically but by language and culture. Social isolation and anti-foreigner sentiment in host countries can leave workers exposed to abuse and short of remedies.


Confiscation of personal documents such as passports and visas results in increased vulnerability to unilateral employer demands, since workers otherwise inclined to walk away from abusive conditions might fear ending up in an undocumented status.

Key data elements relevant for assessing risk in recruitment

Company policies on recruitment

Data on recruitment agencies, brokers, employers

Fees charged to jobseekers and workers

Wages, deductions, and benefits provided or charged to workers


Lists of legal recruitment agencies from Departments of Labor in sourcing countries

Assess the risk in recruitment processes based on:

Legal compliance with all relevant laws and policies

Ethical and professional conduct by recruitment agency, brokers, and employer

Fees charged to jobseekers and workers by upstream broker, recruitment agency, or employer

Provision of contracts to workers

Provision to workers of transparent, ethical terms of engagement including information on jobs and with contract terms, ensuring workers are placed in the job for which they were recruited

Companies employing workers, particularly migrant workers, should maintain documentation demonstrating... 

Their policies and procedures followed to obtain workers, and the recruitment policies and practices from each supplier.

Free-of-charge services provided to jobseekers and workers.


Transparent, ethical terms of engagement.


Provision of written contracts to workers, including a copy of the contract provided to worker, with all terms explained in language a worker is fluent in.

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