Tied-Visas and Domestic Workers

Wednesday 2 December 2015, all day

Motion detail

Around 17,000 domestic workers are brought to the UK each year to work in some of the most exclusive residential areas of London[1][13]. Migrant domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation[2][14] and evidence suggests that low pay, physical and mental abuse, long working hours, and trafficking are endemic. Reports of abuse and exploitation are rare and to date there has been no conviction upheld for trafficking an adult to the UK for domestic servitude[3][15].


The situation is exacerbated under the current visa rules[4][16], introduced in 2012, which tie domestic workers to their employer[5][17]. Critics of the tied-visa claim that the UK government has recreated kafala, a much criticised sponsorship system used in Gulf States, which is turning migrant workers into modern day slaves[6][18].  

The Mayor’s response to the issue is that MOPAC’s victim strategy pays careful attention to ensure the best possible reach of resources to all victims of crime[7][19]. More could be done to make sure that convictions are upheld and to stop abuse from happening in the first place.

This Assembly therefore welcomes the suggestion made by the Government’s Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland, for an inspections system designed to assess the welfare of domestic workers[8][20]. However, concerns that such regulation would be ineffectual under the current tied-visa must be taken into account when considering future policies to protect domestic workers.

We understand that the recommendations of an independent review of the tied-visa commissioned by the Minister for Modern Slavery and Organised Crime, Karen Bradley, are due to be announced[9][21]. Given the barrier to justice for domestic workers that the tied visa presents, this Assembly calls on the Mayor, in his capacity as the de facto Police and Crime Commissioner for London, to write to the Home Secretary, making the case for the tied-visa to be repealed.”

[1][13] http://www.kalayaan.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Kalayaan-3-year-briefing.pdf

[2][14] Domestic work by its nature is carried out in the home of the employer, out of sight from the outside world regulatory bodies. Migrant domestic workers also often live in the home of their employer which further increases their vulnerability to abuse and exploitation.

[3][15] Kalayaan Briefing: Research on Police Effectiveness in the Protection of Migrant Domestic Workers

[4][16] Since April 2012 migrant domestic workers who enter the UK on the Overseas Domestic Worker visa are tied to their employer, if the worker leaves for any reason they will have breached the immigration rules.

[5][17] http://www.kalayaan.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Kalayaan-3-year-briefing.pdf

[6][18] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/17/uk-tied-visa-system-turning-domestic-workers-into-modern-day-slaves

[7][19] http://questions.london.gov.uk/QuestionSearch/searchclient/questions/question_281962

[8][20] http://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/wealthy-foreigners-face-spot-checks-on-domestic-staff-to-stamp-out-slavery-a3109971.html

[9][21] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/17/uk-tied-visa-system-turning-domestic-workers-into-modern-day-slaves