October 17, 2019
Dignity, not destitution: the impact of differential rights of work for migrant domestic workers referred to the National Referral Mechanism
Ahead of Anti-Slavery Day 2019, Kalayaan has produced new research which examines the impact of the denial of work on migrant domestic workers with outstanding trafficking or modern slavery claims before the Home Office.
Migrant domestic workers are issued a visa for a maximum of six months. Many workers who register with Kalayaan tell us they are trapped or prevented from leaving their employers in the UK and suffer severe labour rights violations amounting to modern slavery.
When workers escape, they often speak with strangers to avoid becoming homeless and destitute. Through word of mouth, many come to Kalayaan to seek advice and assistance about their rights in the UK.
Only those workers identified as potential victims of trafficking or slavery, who enter the National Referral Mechanism and receive a positive reasonable grounds decision whilst their original six month visa is still valid have their leave extended and have permission to work. This is crucial for workers as their focus is to find alternative employment, a decent employer and to send remittances home to their families.
Those workers who enter the NRM and receive a positive reasonable grounds decision after their visa has expired do not have permission to work in the UK. They must wait until the second and final decision is made by the Home Office, known as the conclusive grounds decision.
On average, migrant domestic workers who are in the NRM face a wait of 24 months to receive conclusive grounds decisions. In 2018, the longest wait for a worker was 37 months. This can be a time of confusion, uncertainty and hopelessness.
Kalayaan’s research, Dignity, not destitution, looks at the impact the denial of work has on victims of trafficking and slavery pending their conclusive grounds decision. It reveals that without work, workers are drawn into destitution and pressurised into entering informal and exploitative work.
For Anti-Slavery Day 2019, Kalayaan and 20+ individuals and organisations have written an open letter to the Immigration Minister asking that she review this policy and the effect it has on this vulnerable workforce. We call on her to allow all migrant domestic workers in the NRM permission to work.
Our research Dignity, not destitution can be found here.
Our open letter can be found here.
A list of the co-signatories to our letter are:
- Jess Phillips, Member of Parliament for Birmingham, Yardley
- Vernon Coaker, Member of Parliament for Gedling (1997 – 2019) and trustee of the Human Trafficking Foundation
- Diana Holland, Assistant General Secretary, Unite the Union
- Jasmine O’Connor OBE, Chief Executive, Anti-Slavery International
- Clare Collier, Advocacy Director, Liberty (National Council for Civil Liberties)
- Nicole Francis, Chief Executive, Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association
- James Ewins QC, Barrister and Author of the Independent Review of the Overseas Domestic Worker Visa in 2015
- Patrick Stoakes, Policy and Programmes Manager, British Institute of Human Rights
- Fizza Qureshi and Jilna Shah, Chief Executive Officers, Migrant Rights Network
- Chai Patel, Legal Policy Director, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants
- Kate Roberts, Chair, Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group
- Joanna Ewart-James, Executive Director, Freedom United
- Phoebe Dimacali, Founder, Filipino Domestic Workers Association
- Gisela Valle, Chair of the Labour Exploitation Advisory Group and Director of the Latin American Women’s Rights Service
- Lucila Granada, Chief Executive, Focus on Labour Exploitation
- Professor Bridget Anderson, Director of Migration Mobilities Bristol, University of Bristol
- Marissa Begonia, Founder, The Voice of Domestic Workers
- Amuerfina R. Reyes, Labor Attache, Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), Embassy of the Philippines in London
- Wilson Solicitors LLP, Tottenham, London
- Minh Dang, Director, Survivor Alliance
- Professor Zoe Trodd, Director of the Rights Lab, University of Nottingham
- Jean Demars, Development Lead, Public Interest Law Centre
- Victoria Marks, Director, Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit
- Professor Gary Craig, Professor of Social Justice, Visiting Professor , University of Newcastle upon Tyne
- Professor Louise Waite, Professor of Human Geography, School of Geography, University of Leeds
- Ian Kane, Legal Services Manager, Consonant
- Anna Fisher, Chair, Nordic Model Now!
- Sally Daghlian OBE, Chief Executive, Praxis Community Projects
- Phillipa Roberts, Director of Legal Policy, Hope for Justice
- Dr Ella Cockbain, Associate Professor in Security and Crime Science, UCL
- Urmila Bhoola, UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences (2014 – 2020)
- Maya Esslemont, Director, After Exploitation
- Claire Waxman, London’s Victims Commissioner, Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime
- Colm O’Cinneide, Professor of Law, UCL Faculty of Laws
- Professor Hugh Collins, Department of Law, LSE
- Daniel Trilling, Journalist and Author
- Simon Cox, Open Society Justice Initiative
- Professor Rosie Cox, Professor of Geography, Birkbeck University of London
- Professor Lizzie Barmes, Professor of Labour Law & Co-Director QMUL School of Law Centre for Research on Law Equality and Diversity
- Maya Goodfellow, Author and Academic
- Professor Lydia Hayes, Kent Law School, University of Kent
- Andrew Smith, Coordinator of the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership
- Catherine Briddick, Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford
- Dipti Pardeshi, Chief of Mission, International Organization for Migration, UK
- Professor Valerio De Stefano, Institute for Labour Law, KU Leuven, Belgium
- Dr Alicia Kidd, Postdoctoral Researcher, The Wilberforce Institute
- Nadine El-Enany, Senior Lecturer in Law and Co-Director of the Centre for Research on Race and Law, Birkbeck College
- Dr Ruth Van Dyke, Visiting Fellow, Centre for the Study of Modern Slavery, St Mary’s University
- Kate Green, Member of Parliament for Stretford and Urmston
- The Rt Rev. the Lord Bishop of Bristol, Vivienne Frances Faull
- Guilene Marco, Policy Committee, Women’s Equality Party
- Dr Inga Thiemann, Lecturer in Law, University of Exeter Law School
- Zlakha Ahmed MBE, CEO, Apna Haq
- Baroness Royall of Blaisdon
- Katharine Bryant, Lead of European Engagement, Minderoo Foundation, Walk Free
- Marley Morris, Associate Director for Immigration, Trade and EU Relations, Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)
- Caroline Lucas, Member of Parliament for Brighton, Pavilion
- Veronica Deutsch, Executive Director, Nanny Solidarity Network
- Simpson Millar Solicitors
- Daniel Sohege, Director of Stand For All
If you would like to join Kalayaan and our supporters to ask for a change in policy, please email Avril Sharp, Policy Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your name will then be added to the above list.
Last updated: 3 March 2021