Government review, opportunity to increase protection

Migrant Domestic Worker's visa and Government's review of protections

Following the introduction of the Points Based System (PBS) for migration to the UK the Government plans to review the migrant domestic worker visa.

© Pete Pattisson                                    
The previous Government’s decision to maintain the existing protections provided by the visa were based on a recognition of the particular vulnerability to abuse and exploitation of migrant domestic workers who live and work in the house of one employer who they are also dependent upon for information about their immigration status in the UK.

The review is an exciting opportunity to extend protections available to MDWs and to ensure that these are enforced. In is in spite of key protections such as the right to change employer, allowing an MDW to escape abuse without jeopardizing their immigration status, that many MDWs are still severely exploited. In some cases the exploitation has been so severe that the workers have also been found to have been trafficked for domestic servitude.

MDWs who accompany diplomats to the UK do not have the right to change employer. This, in addition to their employer’s diplomatic immunity makes diplomatic MDWs particularly vulnerable to abuse. Kalayaan sincerely hopes that the review will act on the need for additional protections for diplomatic MDWs.

Kalayaan figures for referrals to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). The government body which assesses whether an individual has been trafficked.

  • Between 1st April and 31st December 2009, Kalayaan referred 22 cases of trafficking for domestic servitude to the NRM
  • Of these 22 cases, 9 were cases where the domestic worker had come to the UK to work with a diplomat
  • If you compare the figures of referrals made under the NRM in this period with the relative number of visas issue in a year, you find that approximately 6.9% of diplomatic domestic workers are trafficked compared to 0.1% of domestic workers in private households