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Publication date:15 June 2018

Out of sight: migrant women exploited in domestic work

The stories of the domestic workers FRA interviewed for this paper reveal appalling working conditions and fundamental rights abuses in private homes across the EU. These stories indicate that, seven years on from FRA’s first report on domestic workers in 2011, little has changed in terms of the risks and experiences of severe labour exploitation domestic workers in the EU face.


The project looks at the experiences and views of foreign workers in selected EU countries who have experienced criminal forms of labour exploitation. It fills an important gap by extending the evidence beyond the views of professionals who deal with labour exploitation; this was covered in an earlier project.


The Agency’s research showed how labour exploitation is not an isolated or marginal phenomenon but often remains undetected across the EU. This is largely due to a lack of workplace monitoring in many economic sectors. This leads to a situation of impunity for exploiters. This project will uncover evidence about foreign workers’ experiences which are key to developing measures to counter labour exploitation. These could include designing effective risk assessment frameworks based on an analysis of risk factors from the perspectives of professionals and victims.


The Agency will carry out face-to-face interviews with foreign workers - both EU and third country nationals - who have experienced severe labour exploitation in the last few years. There will also be focus discussion groups with foreign workers who are at risk of labour exploitation. Research will be carried out in eight EU Member States: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Data will be collected through the Agency’s multidisciplinary research network, FRANET. The findings will complement and build on FRA’s comprehensive research (2013-2015) involving desk research in 28 EU Member States and primary social research in 21 Member States (interviews and focus groups with nine groups of professionals and a collection of case studies).


  • Findings are now available:


FRA wishes to acknowledge and particularly thank the following for their valuable input during the project: