Proposed new anti-slavery laws to be created through an amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill will be voted on at the House of Lords today.
Campaign groups Liberty and Anti-Slavery International have said the UK’s employment laws and legislation are inadequate and forced labour remains widespread, with some migrant workers being held against their will on low wages.
The campaign groups hope to create two new offences – one for holding someone in servitude, carrying a punishment of up to 14 years in prison, and a second offence of forced labour, punishable by up to seven years imprisonment.
The Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats, Unite union and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority have already pledged their support for the amendments.
But ministers have insisted the current laws provide sufficient protection.
Aidan McQuade, from Anti-Slavery International, told the BBC: “Forced labour will remain a reality in the UK unless adequate legislation is put in place and enforced.
“Getting the police to prosecute those who hold people in modern-day slavery is extremely difficult because of the lack of a clear offence criminalising this practice.
“The existing legal provisions fail to protect victims or ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice.”