Are migrant domestic workers entitled to the National Minimum Wage?
Yes, migrant domestic workers are legally entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW). The rate changes every April.
In April 2018 the following rates were announced:
- Aged 25 and over: £8.21 hourly rate
- Aged 21 – 24: £7.70 hourly rate
- Aged 18 – 20: £6.15 hourly rate
This is a gross wage so tax and National Insurance contributions can be deducted from this amount. The NMW is the MINIMUM an employer is legally entitled to pay a worker.
Any employment position becomes more attractive and sustainable if the employer pays a living wage rather than the minimum. The London Living Wage is recommended at £10.55 per hour and outside London is a recommended £9 per hour.
Can money be deducted from wages for accommodation and food?
No money can be deducted for food.
There are limits set on the amount that an employer providing accommodation can offset this against the NMW requirements. From April 2019, a daily rate of £7.55 can be deducted for each day that the employer makes accommodation available. If more than this amount is deducted it cannot be used to offset the National Minimum Wage.
This means that a maximum of £52.85 per week can be deducted for accommodation from a domestic worker’s pay. If the work is part time, or the accommodation is not provided every day, the maximum amount that can be deducted will be less. If the hourly or daily calculations produce different answers, then the smaller amount should be used.
For more information on the accommodation offset, please click here.
Do domestic workers need to pay tax and National Insurance (NI)?
As an employer, you are responsible for making the tax and National Insurance payments for a domestic worker who is working full time for you. When agreeing the salary with a worker you would like to employ, you should clarify if the amount you are discussing is before or after tax and NI has been deducted. If you want help with registering with HM Revenue and Customs as an employer you can call their New employer helpline on 0300 200 3200 or click here for further information.
Can domestic workers change employers once they are in the UK?
Migrant domestic workers are allowed to change employers. This will not affect any future applications for visa extensions. In order to extend their visa, domestic workers will need to be in full time employment with a new employer in a private household. If a worker changes employers, they must inform the Home Office in writing.
In April 2012, the government prohibited workers from changing employers in the following categories:
a) Domestic workers in a private household who applied for their entry clearance on or after 6 April 2012 are not allowed to change to work for any other employer than the one they entered the UK with
b) Domestic workers in a Diplomatic Household who have a visa reading “Domestic Worker in a diplomatic household” or “Domestic Worker (Diplomatic)” or “Tier 5 Int Agreement” are only able to change employers within the same diplomatic mission (if they applied for their entry clearance before 6 April 2012)
c) Domestic workers who work for a Diplomat and who applied for their entry clearance to the UK on or after 6 April 2012 are not allowed to change to work for any other employer
In April 2016, after a campaign by Kalayaan and our supporters, the government allowed workers to change employers in the below categories:
a) Domestic workers in a private household who applied for their entry clearance on or after 6 April 2016 are permitted to change their employer and work for the remaining term of their visa as a domestic worker. They do not need to notify the Home Office of any change in employer
b) As of 24 November 2016, domestic workers employed by diplomats can change their employer and work for the remaining term of their visa as a domestic worker. They do not need to notify the Home Office of any change in employer
Are domestic workers allowed to work for a cleaning agency, or as a cleaner in a hotel, or nursery or an office?
No. Migrant domestic workers who entered the UK on an Overseas Domestic Worker visa are only permitted to work for an individual in their private household and carry out domestic work.
When should a domestic worker apply to renew their Domestic Worker visa?
Domestic workers can apply to the Home Office to renew their Domestic Work visa from 28 days before the expiry date. They must have sent the application before the expiry date. We strongly recommend using Special Delivery and keeping proof of postage.
What if a domestic worker's visa expires whilst their application is in the Home Office?
So long as a domestic worker sent their application to renew a domestic worker visa before the visa expired (and they have proof of this), they can remain in the UK, and continue working lawfully on the terms of their visa, until they receive a decision from the Home Office.