Hotels: take action against slavery -

Hotels: take action against slavery

hotel worker cleaning

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No one should be above the law. Yet hotels are leaving workers and service-users at risk of exploitation, with some even failing to meet their minimum legal obligations to address modern slavery in their business and supply chains.

Vulnerable workforces, complex supply chains and extensive franchising means that the hotel sector is reported to be exposed to a high risk of modern slavery.1 Less than 10 percent of hotels are owner-operated meaning that there is often a separation between those responsible for working conditions and those responsible for the business. But the hotel industry can’t hide behind this excuse. Big companies, no matter how complex, must meet their obligations under the law to tackle modern slavery throughout their business.

Under the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015, companies with operations in the UK and an annual turnover of £36 million or more are legally required to publish annual modern slavery statements on their websites. Whilst statements rarely tell us whether modern slavery is present in a business, they should set out the steps they have taken to prevent modern slavery. A recent report2 analyzing these statements has exposed an alarming lack of progress in the hotel industry. As a whole, the hotel sector is not doing enough to establish effective anti-slavery responses to modern slavery and mitigate modern slavery risks.

Shockingly, 6 hotel companies have not published a statement at all, suggesting modern slavery risks in their business and supply chains are totally unchecked and workers exposed. Together, these 6 hotel companies make billions of dollars in revenue annually whilst failing to meet their basic legal responsibilities. Whilst this failure does not equate to the presence of slavery, or an increased risk in these particular hotels, no matter how powerful, well-managed or profitable a business, following the law to tackle slavery is not optional. The poor response from the hotel sector is unacceptable for a multi-billion-dollar industry marketed on luxury and decadence, employing thousands of people around the world.

A staggering 1.8 billion international tourist arrivals are expected by 2030 and the hotel and hospitality sector employs 292 million people worldwide, contributing 10.2 percent of global GDP,3 to meet this demand – with no signs of slowing down. Massive growth in the tourism industry means that many of us have benefitted from the services and products offered by hotels, and now we want to hold them accountable.

When an estimated 16 million people globally are trapped in modern slavery in the private sector, the power that businesses have to end modern slavery is indisputable and cannot be achieved without their action. Let’s call on the hotel sector take action against modern slavery and meet its legal obligations.

Publishing legally compliant modern slavery statements is the bare minimum, a crucial first step for these 6 hotel companies to show how workers in their business and supply chains are protected from exploitation. But compliance with the law is not the whole picture. Some hotel groups have published weak statements that don’t address all of the recommended criteria4 and, as a result, have few or no mechanisms in place to effectively tackle modern slavery and exploitation.

By coming together and loudly calling for change, we can push the hotel industry to not only publish modern slavery statements but let them know that as consumers we are holding them accountable.

In the UK alone, 3.2 million people are employed in the hospitality industry with migrant workers making up 24 percent of the workforce, some of whom work in hotels. Isabel is one of these workers. She migrated to the UK and worked as an outsourced cleaner at a hotel where she experienced exploitation and describes conditions that shows all the signs of modern slavery.

When she arrived in the UK, Isabel was offered a job cleaning rooms at a hotel outside of London. She was not allowed any breaks, verbally abused by her employer and paid just £2 per room.5 During her stay, she lived in a small room that she was told she had to pay for out of her meagre earnings. Isabel’s irregular migration status meant that she lived in fear of her employer denouncing her to the authorities if she complained about her working conditions.

The hotel sector has a long way to go in ensuring workers like Isabel are protected from exploitation but by meeting their legal requirements hotels will better understand the slavery risks in their business and the measures needed to tackle modern slavery.

 Together we can use our power to call on the hotel sector to take action against modern slavery. Join the call today.


  • COVID-19 Update: The tourism and hospitality sectors have been hit extremely hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with hotels around the world closing their doors. This has put their employees, already at risk of exploitation as a result of limited transparency, in an even more vulnerable position—particularly migrant workers in countries like the UAE. Read more here.

Chip in and help end modern slavery once and for all.


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Shirley Trevino
Shirley Trevino
4 years ago

The Trump Hotels in the US have also exploited workers by not paying them full wages and hours worked. Undocumented workers have been fired yet no fines have not been levied against the company for hiring workers as required by law. Workers throughout the world need protection.

4 years ago
Reply to  john Bestevaar

Sadly it has become good business practice to exploit people. It is common, for instance, for large companies to open their own “temp” agencies so that they can keep lots of part time workers on call, without paying them properly or giving them any kind of benefits or protection, and without having to guarantee them any hours. It doesn’t exactly qualify as slavery but it’s definitely exploitation. Our consumer society needs to change.

Janet Palafox
Janet Palafox
4 years ago
Reply to  Miriam Karmali

Hi, these hotels are very exclusive and I definitely cannot afford to stay in them. But perhaps Freedom United could tweet or write a post to celebrities or CEOs and encourage them, especially if they stay at these hotels to contact them personally.

john Bestevaar
john Bestevaar
4 years ago

Modern slavery is invisible. Any one could be within one metre of a modern slave and they would not know it. So only effective investigation can expose the slavers. These are usually corporations so legal action and publication are effective ways to get public support for the cause.

Hotels: can you take action against slavery?


Help us reach 15,000

To: Capital Hill Hotels Group London Ltd, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Indian Hotel Company, Jumeirah Groups, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Ltd, and Sir Richard Sutton Limited

Under the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015, companies operating in the UK with an annual turnover of £36 million or more are legally required to publish annual modern slavery statements on their websites. Despite meeting this threshold, Walk Free’s ‘Beyond compliance in the hotel sector’ report shows your company has not published a modern slavery statement for any financial year since 2016, suggesting modern slavery risks throughout your business are totally unchecked and workers exposed.

I am calling on you to publish a legally compliant modern slavery statement in 2020 for the preceding financial year and to cover each of the recommended areas set out in the UK Home Office guidance:

1. Organization structure and supply chains

2. Policies in relation to slavery and human trafficking

3. Due diligence processes

4. Risk assessment and management

5. Key performance indicators to measure effectiveness of steps being taken

6. Training on modern slavery and trafficking

When 16 million people around the world are trapped in modern slavery in the private sector, action from businesses like yours is crucial to curbing exploitation and forced labor. Whilst failing to publish a modern slavery statement does not equate to the presence of slavery, or an increased risk, by meeting this minimum legal requirement your business is demonstrating your understanding of the slavery risks and the measures that should be implemented to tackle modern slavery and protect workers throughout your business.

Yours sincerely,

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