Since Justice For Domestic Workers (J4DW) now known as The Voice of Domestic Workers (VODW) was established in 2009, there were so many ups and downs but what remained strong is the strength in memberships, management, and support network. The services for 13 years have been expanded according to the needs and changes of the situation of migrant domestic workers (mdws) and the positive response to the emergency aid by VODW management, funders and the public during the pandemic. VODW has supported members impacted by the pandemic with food and financial assistance.
It was April 2012 when the campaign to keep the rights on Overseas Domestic Workers (ODW) Visa was lost which means mdws could no longer change employers, renew their visas, apply for settlement, and British Citizenship. Little change was achieved in 2015 when the government reviewed the Modern Slavery Act which allowed mdws to change employer within 6 months entry clearance ODW visa only. But allowing mdws to change employers and denying them to renew visas is not untying the visa system because mdws are still tied to the system that they have no access to basic rights and recourse to justice.
International Women’s Day 2022 and Nationality and Borders Bill
VODW celebrated this important day in the House of Lords fighting for the rights of migrant domestic workers Amendment 70A in Nationality and Borders Bill, a bill that criminalises and dehumanises migrants and refugees. The first amendment was tabled by Baroness Hamwee and the second amendment (same texts) in the Lords was tabled by Bishop Viv however it was also withdrawn even 7 peers have spoken in support of the amendment. VODW and allies are deeply disappointed with the decision which only means mdws are still trapped in exploitative work. Read the Joint briefing for a call to reinstate the rights of mdws in the Borders Bill.
Members of VODW with Bishop Viv outside House of Lords before #BordersBill debate
National Minimum Wage: Victory on the removal of live-in domestic workers in the Family Member Exemption
Watch the National Minimum (Amendment) Regulations 2022 below;
In mid-2021, Ten of our members bravely gave oral evidence to the 6 Low Pay Commissioners through a zoom meeting. Members discussed why migrant domestic workers couldn’t access the National Minimum Wage and told them their own experiences.
On March 10, 2 days after the withdrawal of amendment in the Borders Bill came the positive news that the government had accepted the Low Pay Commission’s recommendations including the recommendation on the live-in worker, domestic workers' exemption. This means employers can no longer use this as an excuse for not paying a domestic worker proper pay that is in accordance with the National Minimum Wage.
What is this Family Member Exemption that affected live-in Domestic Workers?
Workers who live in a family home as part of the family (but who are not members of that family) and who share in the work and leisure activities of the household do not need to be paid the National Minimum Wage for the work performed relating to the employer’s family household. Living as part of the family means that the worker must be provided with living accommodation and meals free of charge and must share in family tasks and leisure activities on the same basis as other family members. Workers who may satisfy these conditions include (but are not limited to):
On March 7th, The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland became the 11th country in the world, and the 3rd country in Europe, to ratify Convention No. 190. VODW welcomes this ratification and is looking forward to the implementation and enforcement of ILO C190. VODW also wants to remind the UK Government that ILO C189, Decent Work for Domestic Workers is long-delayed for ratification. This is the campaign that VODW had been campaigning for decades. The more vulnerable the workers are the more protection and rights should be in place to protect domestic workers. For more updates and to support our campaign, please visit our campaign site.
Today March 15, 2022 VODW turns 13 years old. We held our first physical classes and celebrated the 13th Anniversary of VODW with food and sharing of each other's work and living conditions and laughter. It's been 13 years of championing change through solidarity, organising, education, campaigning and we will live on and keep fighting until our rights are granted. Thank you to all our supporters and funders for n ever-ending support!