Victims of Trafficking and Modern Slavery

Unfortunately, some Overseas Domestic Workers are the victims of exploitation. You may be entitled to protection and assistance in the UK, if it is accepted that you are or have been a Victim of Modern Slavery and/Trafficking.

You may not know what these terms mean or whether you or a person you are working with is a victim of trafficking or modern slavery. This page hopes to assist with your understanding and explain what help may be available to you. You may also want to refer to our other factsheets which provide information on a range of related topics.


Some Overseas Domestic Workers are victims of human trafficking and modern slavery. Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery are terms that mean similar things.

The Home Office[1] says modern slavery encompasses:

  • Human trafficking
  • Slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour

Domestic servitude includes people working in a household where they are:

  • strictly controlled by their employer
  • have no freedom to leave the house
  • ill treated
  • humiliated
  • subjected to exhausting working hours
  • forced to live and work under unbearable conditions
  • forced to work for little or no pay

Your circumstances may be worsened by the fact that it is very difficult for you to leave your employer and seek help, because your employer creates physical and psychological obstacles, for example, instilling fear by threatening you or relatives, with further abuse or deportation, or by withholding your passport. If you think this may apply to you but are not sure, the starting point should be to think carefully about all the reasons why you might be unhappy with your work conditions, for example if you are being treated badly or unfairly. You may want to discuss this matter or seek advice from Kalayaan on this subject, in which case please email or telephone us on 0207 243 2942.


If you are in immediate danger in your place of work in the UK, you should contact the police dialling 999, as the police can help to remove you from the immediate risk. They can also help you access assistance in these circumstances.


The UK has signed up to a number of different laws to provide support to victims of trafficking and slavery. One of these legal instruments is the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (ECAT). This provides the minimum standards of care and protection to victims that the UK government must adhere to. ECAT provides victims with certain rights and entitlements. For example, victims are entitled to safe accommodation if needed and access to emergency medical treatment.

The UK has established the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), as the framework to identify victims and provide support to them during the identification process.


In outline, to enter the National Referral Mechanism, you must be referred into this process by a ‘First Responder’, who thinks you may have been the Victim of Trafficking or Modern Slavery. A decision maker called the ‘Single Competent Authority’ must initially decide if there are ‘Reasonable Grounds’ for thinking you have been a victim. If they are of the view that there are ‘Reasonable Ground’ for thinking this is the case, you will be entitled to help and assistance on this basis.

If you receive a positive ‘Reasonable Grounds’ decision, you will then be entitled to access a range of government support and services, which includes:

  • Safe accommodation
  • Financial support
  • Free legal representation for immigration (if they meet the eligibility criteria).
  • Independent emotional and practical help
  • Access to the NHS

The Single Competent Authority will eventually make a ‘Conclusive Grounds’ decision. If the ‘Conclusive Grounds’ decision is positive, a Recovery Needs Assessment will be undertaken. The Single Competent Authority will then determine what support should be in place for you after the Conclusive Grounds decision is made. You may be also be entitled to remain in the UK for a limited period.

If you receive a negative Reasonable Grounds decision or a Negative Conclusive Grounds decision, there is no right of appeal. We can ask for these decisions to be reconsidered. A legal challenge can be brought through a mechanism called a “Judicial Review”. You will need a solicitor to assist with applying to bringing a “Judicial Review”.

For more detail click on the following:


We are here to explain the National Referral Mechanism process to you and support you with the initial stage of this process, as before a ‘Reasonable Grounds’ decision is made, you are not entitled to any publicly funded legal assistance.

Kalayaan is a ‘First Responder’, so we can make a referral into the NRM process. In order to assist you, we would need to register you as a client and then ask you questions about your work history, work conditions and personal circumstances, in order to assess whether, in our opinion, we think you have been a Victim of Trafficking and Modern Slavery. If we think you have been a victim, we will prepare the referral on your behalf. If we do not think you have been a victim, it is open to you to seek a second opinion.

If you receive a positive Reasonable Grounds decision, we may continue to provide you with assistance and support, whilst your NRM matter progresses. However, as we are a small charity, this will depend on our resources, your needs and the other support available to you.

You can find out more about the stages of the NRM by reading:


Kalayaan is a First Responder focusing on individuals who came to the UK on an Overseas Domestic Worker visa, or who have been brought to the UK on the belief that they had such a visa. If this was not the case for you, then you can seek help from another First Responder organisation. The Government website sets out a full list of First Responders able to refer potential victims of trafficking to the NRM. Below, you can find more information about the remit of some of these First Responders and how to contact them.

Kalayaan operates with limited resources and it is possible that we cannot refer a case immediately. If that is the case, we will either put you on a waiting list or encourage you to contact another First Responder organisation. In the case of the latter, please refer to List of First Responders.

[1] victims-of-modern-day-slavery-competent-authroity-guidance.pdf (