Exploitation and Trafficking

People trafficking can be described as modern-day slavery

People trafficking involves the forced exploitation of a person and can take many forms, including being blackmailed or coerced into work, having to work as a condition of accommodation, and forced into prostitution. Trafficking victims are often deceived into believing that they are coming to a country for a legitimate purpose and then find themselves working in an industry they are not trained for and cannot escape from. For example, traffickers may advertise false or misleading job offers to recruit potential victims. Once in the country, their passport may be taken from them and their movements are restricted. They may not have access to authorities or public agencies. People trafficking often involves debt bondage, where people are forced to work for little or no money and under poor conditions to repay perceived debt. They are treated as commodities and profit is made from their ongoing exploitation.

If you are in an exploitative situation or you know someone who is, contact your local Police. The New Zealand Police and Immigration New Zealand are here to protect, not punish victims of crime.


Migrant workers have the same employment rights as all other workers in New Zealand.

Some employers do not treat their workers according to New Zealand employment law. Exploitation of migrants at work can take many forms. In the worst cases, employers force workers to work in some jobs such as sex work. In other cases exploitation at work may be serious underpayment of wages, being forced to work long hours for little or no pay, restrictions on freedom of movement, or threats against a migrant or their families. We can help you with any Exploitation and Trafficking  grievance you have with your employer and ensure that you receive the benefit and protection of New Zealand employment laws.

If your English is not easy to understand please complete our Client Information Sheet below to help us understand your case.  Then we will phone or email you.

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Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is any unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature. 

Under the Human Rights Act 1993 and the Employment Relations Act 2000 you can take a personal grievance for sexual harassment.

Under the legislation sexual harassment may include: An employer or employer’s representative making a request, directly or indirectly, of an employee for sexual intercourse, sexual contact, or other form of sexual activity that contains:

  • an implied or overt promise of preferential treatment in that employee’s employment, or
  • an implied or overt threat of detrimental treatment in that employee’s employment, or
  • an implied or overt threat about the employee’s present or future employment status

An employer or employer’s representative using language (written or spoken), visual material or physical behaviour of a sexual nature:

  • that is unwelcome or offensive to that employee (whether or not this is conveyed to the employer or representative), and
  • that is either repeated or is so significant that it has a detrimental effect on the employee’s employment, job performance, or job satisfaction

If you believe you are being sexually harassed in the workplace you need to discuss it first with your employer. We can help you with the procedure from the first step and any grievance raised. We can help you take a case for sexual harassment to the Authority or the Human Rights Commission.

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