Research details

Wage exploitation and undocumented labour. PAFRAS briefing paper number 7

Author[s] Burnett, Jon

Date 2008



This briefing on labour is part of a series that provides concise analyses of key policies and concerns relating to people made destitute through the asylum process.


The paper uses data from interviews with 15 people seeking asylum conducted for a study of undocumented working undertaken conjunction with Dave Whyte, University of Liverpool.

Key issues

The paper focuses on the routine financial exploitation of undocumented workers. The asylum system criminalises labour. The increase in enforcement related to illegal working is discussed in relation to labour market needs. Destitution provides a disposable, exploitable labour force, leaving people vulnerable to wage slavery.


Increasing criminalisation of undocumented workers creates greater vulnerability that can be used by employers to further exploit and marginalise.

Further details

Resource type
Published by
Positive Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers, Leeds

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