Domestic Workers in the United Kingdom: Migrant Workers or Modern Day Slaves?
In 1998, the British government introduced the domestic workers’ visa that gave migrant domestic workers (MDW’s) the rights to change their employers and extend their visas with their new employers, as a response to the reports of abuses amongst MDW’s. Most of the MDW’s are from developing countries in Southeast Asia like the Philippines, Myanmar, Indonesia, East Timor. Yet, for reasons on ‘the need to cut the net migration’, the government of the United Kingdom introduced the new domestic workers’ visa in April 2012. The new visa has provisions that got non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) and other private groups alarmed and concerned for the welfare of the MDW’s. Some of these provisions do not allow the MDW’s to change their employers, and that their visas are limited to only six months. According to Donovan in his article “Britain Turns Back the Clock on Migrant Domestic Workers” (2013),‘the new arrangement saw the tied visa reintroduced’. Kalayaan, Anti-Slavery International, and Unite the Union responded to these new visa policies by providing information on the possible impact on how these can weaken the rights of domestic workers, and how abuses and other forms of modern slavery can emerge. This paper will look closely and assess the new policies for the migrant domestic workers in the U.K., and how these policies can truly affect the situation of the MDW’s as to their human rights and welfare; whether the claims of the NGO’s are correct or not. Thus, this paper will review on the current changes and development of the migration policies in the U.K., and see where they stand in upholding the human rights of migrant workers.
Keywords - Human rights, labour rights, migrant workers, domestic workers, UK migration policies