If you would like to join a Union to fight for your rights as a worker, please contact The Voice of Domestic Workers.
Access their website here.
National Minimum Wage
What should I be paid?
The law in the UK says that everyone has a right to be paid the National Minimum Wage (NMW).
If your employer is paying you less than the National Minimum Wage then she or he is breaking the law.
- IF YOU ARE OVER 25: YOU MUST BE PAID THE NATIONAL LIVING WAGE: £8.21 gross per hour
- IF YOU ARE OVER 21 (BUT UNDER 25):YOU MUST BE PAID THE NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE: £7.70 gross per hour
Tax and NI contributions will be deducted from this hourly wage
What should I do if I am not paid the National Minimum Wage?
If you think you are being underpaid, you can contact the Pay and Work rights helpline.
You do not have to give your name if you do not want to. But if you want minimum wage officers to try to get money back for you, it will be easier for them to take some action if they know your name and details.
If you do contact the Pay and Work rights helpline you should tell them that you are working on a domestic worker visa. If the officers tell you they think you are working as a ‘member of the family’ and are not eligible for the National Minimum Wage, please contact Kalayaan, who will be able to help. We have proved at Employment Tribunal’s many times that domestic workers are eligible for the National Minimum Wage.
Contract of Employment / Terms of Employment
What is a contract?
A contract is usually a written agreement about the work you do and the conditions of your employment.
It is an important agreement that should be written down and signed by you and your employer.
A written contract will usually state what work you are expected to do, the hours you will work, how much you will get paid, the address of your workplace, the name of your employer, your holiday allowance and other conditions.
Please remember that for the purposes of renewing your visa you and your employer will need to complete Appendix 7 of the immigration rules to details the terms and conditions of your employment. You can find Appendix 7 here.
Even without a written contract you will still have some statutory employment rights. These include the right to the minimum wage and certain holiday and maternity rights.
UK employment law states that your employer must give you a written and signed contract that you agree to within two months of starting your job. Your contract should be written in a way that you understand. Before you sign a contract make sure that you understand it and that you agree with what is written.
Can my employer change the contract after I have started working for her / him?
When the terms of your contract of Employment have been agreed, either in writing or as a spoken agreement, they cannot be changed unless:
- Both you and your employer agree to the changes
- The written contract clearly states that the employer can change the terms without your agreement
- The employer ends your employment and re-employs you on a new contract
Where an employer changes the terms of your contract without your agreement, your employer could be breaking the contract.
If you are worried about losing your job if you complain and feel that you have to do everything your employer asks, even when it is not in your contract, you can contact Kalayaan for advice.
Conditions of employment
Will my employer provide accommodation?
This depends on what you agree with your employer.
Your employer must either:
- give you somewhere to live, or
- pay you enough money so that you can pay for your own accommodation
If you are in the UK on a migrant domestic worker visa you cannot claim benefits, so the state will not provide you with accommodation or any money.
If you are living in your employer’s private house, you must be given your own bedroom. You must also have clear hours when you work and when you have time off.
Can money be deducted from my wages for accommodation and food?
No money can be deducted for food.
A maximum of £52.85 per week can be deducted for accommodation from your pay. If the work is part time, or the accommodation is not provided every day, the maximum amount that can be taken will be less.
How many hours will I have to work?
You should have a clear agreement with your employer (in writing if possible) on the amount of hours that you work. As a guide an acceptable number of hours is 48 hours a week.
If you are being asked to work more than 48 hours make sure that you are being paid enough. If you are worried that you are working too many hours and not being paid enough you can call the Acas Helpline 0300 123 1100 or contact Kalayaan for advice.
What should I do if I am not paid the National Minimum Wage / National Living Wage?
You should be paid for the amount of hours you work.
If you think you are being underpaid, if it is safe for you to do so, you should raise the matter with your employer. If this does not work, you should make a formal complaint to your employer.
If this does not work, you can make a complaint to HMRC. More information can be found here:
What rest breaks & holidays am I entitled to?
- During every 6 hours of work you must have at least one 20-minute break, this is the minimum and it is recommended that people have breaks of at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- In 24 hours you should have a daily rest period of at least 11 hours together
- Every week you must have at least one 24-hour period away from work, this means that if you stop working on Saturday evening you should have the whole of Sunday off and not return to work until Monday.
- Your employer must give you 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday per year (these can include bank holidays). You as an employee are expected to provide notice of at least twice as much time as the period you have requested for holiday, for example at least 2 weeks notice for 1 week holiday.
Tax and National Insurance
All workers in the UK must pay income tax and National Insurance by law. If you are on a domestic worker visa then your employer must pay your tax. You cannot be ‘self-employed’ because your visa requires that you be ’employed’. This means that you cannot be responsible for paying your own tax (until after you have your indefinite leave to remain). Your employer must deduct the tax from your salary and pay it to the tax office.
Your employer can register with the tax office (HM Revenue and Customs) very easily. They just need to call the ‘New employer’s helpline‘, and they will be given information about how to pay your tax.
Your employer will deduct the money for tax and national insurance from your salary. This means that there will be two different figures for your salary. One is called your ‘gross’ salary, and this is your salary BEFORE tax and national insurance is deducted. The other figure is called your ‘net’ salary. This is your salary AFTER tax and national insurance is deducted; it is the amount of money you get in your hand or into your bank account. When you agree to take a job with an employer make sure you are clear whether the salary they are talking to you about is gross or net – before tax or after tax.
To give you an idea of the amount of tax you will pay from your salary. On a weekly salary of £250, your employer will take approximately £35 from your salary to pay in tax and national insurance contributions. This means you would get approximately £215 in your hand. This is an approximation, we do not know your full circumstances. If your employer is deducting a different amount there may be a good reason. Ask them to explain it to you or call Kalayaan.
What if I have a child?
Maternity rights fact sheets
Maternity Action have produced a series of fact sheets showing how maternity rights can vary according to a woman’s immigration status. Women on the domestic worker visa have ‘no recourse to public funds’. A fact sheet for women with this and other immigration statuses can be downloaded here.
For female migrant domestic workers
You are entitled to 26 weeks / 6 months “ordinary maternity leave”. This is time off before, during and after the time that you have your baby. This is a right no matter how long, or for how many hours you have worked for your employer.
If you have been working for someone continuously for 7 months at the point that you are 11 weeks away from your expected week of childbirth then you can ask your employer to pay you “Statutory Maternity Pay”. “Statutory maternity pay” is only payable for 26 weeks. It should be paid at a rate of 90% of what you are paid for the first 6 weeks of your maternity leave and then £145.18 for the remaining 20 weeks. Your employer can claim this money back from the government as long as he or she is a registered employer.
If you are pregnant while you are working as a domestic worker you have a right to paid time-off to attend ante-natal care appointments.
If any employer sacks you because you are pregnant this is called unfair dismissal and you can take legal action against your employer.
For male migrant domestic workers
You can take statutory paternity leave if you:
- are an employee, with a contract of employment
- you are the biological father of the child, or are the mother’s husband or partner
- you have been with your employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the beginning of the week when the baby’s due
- you will be fully involved in the child’s upbringing and are taking the time off to support the mother or care for the baby.
You can take either one or two weeks. You can’t take odd days off, and if you take two weeks they must be taken together.
Maternity and paternity leave and pay are difficult issues. If you are a migrant domestic worker and you need advice about your rights please contact Kalayaan or your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). Click here to find your nearest CAB.
What happens if I get sick?
If you are unable to work because you have been ill for 4 or more days you have the right to Statutory Sick Pay. If you earn £118 (before tax) or more per week Statutory Sick Pay is paid at £94.25 per week. For the first 7 days of sick leave you can ‘self-certify’ (which means you can simply tell your employer you are too ill to work). After 7 days you will need to get a sick note from the GP to give to your employer.
Termination of Employment
What notice must my employer give me before ending my employment?
The notice period is the amount of time you or your employer must give before ending your employment.
Notice is usually included in a contract. Where there is no contract UK employment law gives a minimum amount of notice:
- 1 week’s notice where the employee has more than 1 month but less than 2 years continuous service
- 1 Week’s notice for each year of an employee’s continuous service where she or he has worked for 2 years or more
What can I do if my employer dismisses me without any notice?
If your employer asks you to leave his or her employment without giving you any notice you might be able to take a legal case against your employer. Contact Kalayaan for advice if this happens to you.