The reasons for the Coalition Government’s proposed review of the Migrant Domestic Worker's visa
Every year around 17,000 visas are granted to domestic workers from non-EU countries to
accompany their employers to the UK. Prior to 1998, there was no formal route for migrant
domestic workers (MDWs) to enter the UK. They were given leave to enter either as a visitor, a family member, or given a stamp ‘to work with…’ This meant that they were not formally recognised as workers, leaving them extremely vulnerable to exploitation by their employers and others.
In 1998, the government recognised that the documented levels of abuse and exploitation of MDWs entering the UK with their employers was unacceptable. It introduced new policies to protect this category, and the domestic worker visa. This gives MDWs the protection of UK employment law and allows them to change employer, as long as they continue to work within a private household. The majority of domestic workers are women. Working within the private sphere of the household, they remain a vulnerable migrant group. Instances of psychological and physical abuse are commonplace.
In 2008 the previous Government reexamined the need for protections within the immigration rules for MDW. Proposals suggested with the introduction of the Points Based System for immigration to the UK had been for MDWs to accompany their employers on a 6 month non renewable visit visa. The Government recognized that these proposed changes would have exposed MDWs to unacceptable risk of exploitation and would have increased levels of trafficking for domestic servitude. The decision was made by Government to not only maintain the protections provided by the MDW visa but to review these protections within 2 years of the implementation of the Points Based System for immigration. This review is planned for early 2011 and is a fantastic opportunity to strengthen protections for this particularly vulnerable group of workers who is spite of the improvements made since 1998 continue to suffer shocking levels of abuse at the hands of their employers in the UK (+ STATS)