Key UK visa change to benefit domestic workers from India

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Feb 28, 2015 08:02 IST

Many domestic workers from India and other countries who come to the UK with their employers and suffer abuse will benefit from a key clause that was successfully inserted in the modern slavery bill during a vote in the House of Lords this week.

The government was defeated in the House when the Lords voted 183 to 176 to amend the bill to allow domestic workers suffering abuse to change employers. They were so far tied to their employers after new rules since April 2012 prohibited change of employment once in the UK.

Indians are among many employers who bring domestic workers from their countries of origin. Kalayaan, a campaign group to support migrant domestic workers, has helped several Indian domestic workers trapped in a situation of abuse.

The clause inserted in the bill allows domestic workers to change employer, meaning they can escape abusive employment without fear of breaching the immigration rules. The bill will now return to the House of Commons for a final vote shortly before becoming law.

Besides Kalayaan, human rights group Liberty also campaigned to allow domestic workers change employers in situations of abuse.

Plight of Indian/migrant domestic workers in UK tied to their employers:

· No day off: 79%
· Had passport confiscated: 78%
· Not allowed out of the house unsupervised: 71%
· Psychological abuse (eg. being regularly shouted at and humiliated): 65%
· Did not have a room of their own, or any personal space: 65%
· Paid less than £50 a week: 60%

(Source: Kalayaan)

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