Kalayaan is a registered charity in England and Wales (no. 1146596) and a registered company in England and Wales (no. 7968872). Kalayaan was formally established in 1987 by domestic workers and their supporters. At that time migrant domestic workers in the UK were not recognised within the immigration rules and were brought into the UK informally by their employers.
The only proof of the way they entered was usually a stamp in their passport which read ‘visa to work with.’ and which named the employer. There would be no issue with immigration while the worker remained with their employer but if they left (usually due to unpaid wages or poor treatment) there was no formal recognition of how they entered or their status in the UK leaving them in a vulnerable and precarious position.
Kalayaan was formed to campaign for the formal recognition of migrant domestic workers in the UK within the immigration rules on the basis that without this migrant domestic workers would never be able to challenge any mistreatment or to enforce their rights.
After 10 years of work and campaigning the rule permitting migrant domestic workers to change employers was specifically introduced in 1998 to provide a mechanism for migrant domestic workers to escape exploitative and/or abusive working circumstances without jeopardising their immigration status.
Since then Kalayaan has continued to work with migrant domestic workers in the UK to support them to access their rights and to lobby for the maintenance and improvement of their access to justice. We are regulated by the OISC to give immigration advice to level 1 and we also give basic employment advice. We work closely with solicitors to whom we refer on matters which are beyond our level of expertise.
We work with the Workers Educational Association and with volunteer teachers to deliver English classes on Sundays and we are First Responders able (with their consent) to make referrals of individuals identified as trafficked into the National Referral Mechanism. We use our experience of working with migrant domestic workers in the UK to push to improve the rights of this group of workers.