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February 8, 2021

Stolen rights: it’s time to give migrant domestic workers their rights back

9 years after rights were stolen from migrant domestic workers in the UK, Kalayaan and The Voice of Domestic Workers are demanding the government give them back.

The original Overseas Domestic Worker visa was introduced in 1998 in recognition that this workforce was vulnerable to abuse. It provided some basic but fundamental rights including giving workers the right to change employer and renew their visa. The visa terms were drastically changed in 2012 when the government introduced the ‘tied visa’ meaning that workers were trapped working for exploitative employers and unable to challenge abuse when it arose. In 2016, some changes were made to the visa after the government accepted that workers should not be trapped and permitted them to change employer, but only whilst their original 6 month visa is valid. This is problematic for many reasons, chiefly that workers have only months or weeks remaining on their visa and are often without their passports which have been confiscated by their employer. Without their ID, proof of their right to work and in the absence of references, these workers have no option but to take any work in order to survive. This undermines the rationale for having the right to change employer: to being able to find safe and decent re-employment.

The original Overseas Domestic Worker visa has been recognised nationally and internationally as the best form of protection for this workforce. The government accepts that this workforce is vulnerable to abuse. It’s time the government acts and gives these workers their rights back.

Join the movement and stand in solidarity.

Sign the petition to give workers their right back.

(Petition will be taken down on 27 February 2021).

For more information see:

Anti-Slavery International

The Voice of Domestic Workers

Parliament’s Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill

Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights

Kate Roberts for Anti-Trafficking Review

United Nations Special Rapporteur