Forced Labour

Forced Labour is illegal in Cambodia. Find out what does forced labour mean, what does the law say about it and how can you protect yourself.

What is forced labor?

Forced labour is any work or services which people are forced to do against their will under the threat of some form of punishment.  Almost all slavery practices, including trafficking people and bonded labour, contain some element of forced labour.

Forms of forced labour include:

  • Restrictions on freedom of movement 
  • Confiscation of identity documents or passports
  • Threats of exposure to immigration authorities (if the worker is an immigrant)
  • Creating indebtedness and manipulation of debts 
  • Forced overtime accompanied by threats of dismissal for non-compliance

 What does the law say about it?

The labor law generally defines “forced labor” as hiring of people for work to pay off debts. Forced labor is absolutely forbidden in Cambodia. This applies to everyone, including domestics or household servants and all workers in agricultural enterprises or businesses. All people have the right and freedom to change jobs.

What if the employer takes your passport?                                         

There is no special ruling in the Cambodian Labor Law regarding the question of who keeps your passport or ID -- your employer or yourself.

But you should hold your own passport or ID, not your employer. Internationally, one of the indicators of forced labour is whether the worker can freely use their passport or ID. Too often still, especially in the context of migration, the employer confiscates this personal document. Whenever this happens it is forced labour.

What if your employer says you have to pay debt with having sex?

This is illegal. You should report this to a human rights organization, trade union or public authority.

What does collective agreements say about forced labor?

There is no mention of forced labor in most existing collective agreements.