On 17th November, the Voice of Domestic Workers will call for the UK Government to reinstate the pre-2012 Overseas Domestic Worker visa to help tackle the scourge of modern day slavery after its research shows that two thirds of migrant domestic workers experience physical, verbal or sexual abuse and over half are not given enough food or a private place to sleep.
Around 19,000 Overseas Domestic Worker visas are issued each year to domestic workers entering the UK from outside of the EU, accompanying an employer to work in their private household. The hidden and unregulated nature of domestic work in a private household means such workers are especially vulnerable to abuse, compounded by dependence on their employer for work, immigration status, accommodation and access to information about the UK.
In 2012, the Government - despite committing to address Modern Day Slavery - removed the rights of migrant domestic workers to renew their visa, increasing the risk of abuse to an already vulnerable group of workers. New evidence collected by the Voice of Domestic Workers shows that migrant domestic workers are highly likely to suffer from labour exploitation and abuse: 77% of those surveyed experienced physical, verbal or sexual abuse; 51% reported that they were not given enough food at work; and 61% were not given their own private room in employers’ houses.
On Tuesday 17 November the Voice of Domestic Workers will launch a new campaign for the reinstatement of the Overseas Domestic Worker visa by convening a panel of parliamentarians, charities, campaigners and domestic workers to highlight the issues faced by migrant domestic workers in the UK.
Jess Phillips MP will chair a panel of experts, including Marissa Begonia (Director, Voice of Domestic Workers), Diana Holland OBE (Assistant General Secretary, Unite the Union), Kate Roberts (UK and Europe programme manager of Anti-Slavery International), Dr Joyce Jiang (Lecturer in Human Resource Management, University of York), Avril Sharp (Policy officer, Kalayaan) and Grace Brown (Human right and immigration barrister).
Marissa Begonia (Chair, Voice of Domestic Workers) said: “That such shocking levels of abuse exist in the UK in 2020 is a sad reality for many migrant domestic workers. Five years after the Modern Slavery Act and eight years after rights on the visa were removed, it is time for the original Overseas Domestic Worker visa to be reinstated.”
Jess Phillips MP said:
"Domestic Workers are some of the most marginalised and voiceless people in our country. It is vital that going forward we make sure our laws protect them rather than marginalise them further.”
Details of the campaign launch and discussion:
Date: 17th November,2020
Please RSVP here
A survey conducted by the Voice of Domestic Workers during August 2018 with 539 migrant domestic workers with a variety of immigration statuses revealed:
77% experienced physical, verbal or sexual abuse
51% reported that they were not given enough food at work
61% were not given their own private room in employers’ houses
The majority were paid below the national minimum wage – receiving between £300