Personal Immigration

Changes to migrant domestic worker rules will facilitate slavery

The government's announcement that it will be changing the rules for migrant domestic workers, including the removal of the right to change employer, will facilitate slavery and trafficking, say human rights charities Kalayaan and Anti-Slavery International. 

Migrant domestic workers are vulnerable to horrific abuse and exploitation as has come to light in a number of recent high profile cases in the criminal courts.

The changes would mean that any domestic workers able to escape abuse will immediately lose their right to reside in the UK, therefore greatly reduce the likelihood that they would seek help from the authorities for fear of being deported.

This policy would lead to the victims becoming ‘illegal’ and perpetrators going unpunished. Campaigners believe that the removal of the legal right to escape an abusive situation would result in domestic workers, desperate to earn money for the survival of themselves and their families, going underground, creating an underclass of unprotected and undocumented workers not protected under UK labour laws.

Audrey Guichon, Domestic Work Programme Co-ordinator, Anti-Slavery International, said: “By tying domestic workers to one employer the Government will effectively be licensing slavery, allowing employers to bring workers to the UK without providing those same workers any way of challenging or escaping abuse if it occurs. These proposed changes would give unscrupulous bosses the power to threaten workers with deportation if they do not comply with whatever they demand.”

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