Review criticises terms of domestic worker visa

11 Jan 2016 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Thousands of overseas workers who come to the UK on a domestic worker visa are open to abuse and exploitation, according to an independent review carried out on behalf of the Government.

Barrister James Ewins was asked by the Home Office to look into potential problems faced by the workers, who are unable to change their jobs while in the UK and remain tied to the same employer under the terms of the visa.

The review said that there was “no evidence that a tie to a single employer does anything other than increase the risk of abuse and therefore increases actual abuse”. It recommended that the visa terms be changed to allow people to change employers and remain in Britain for up to two and a half years. It also called on the Government to record claims of abuse reported by people brought into the UK using the visa.

The domestic worker ‘tied’ UK visa was introduced in 2012 and has been widely criticised because it prevents workers from leaving their employment, effectively leaving them as domestic slaves, The Guardian reported.

Kate Roberts, from domestic workers’ rights organisation, Kalayaan, told the paper that many employers treated workers brought to Britain on the visa like “an extra piece of hand luggage”.

She added: “Since this visa came into force in 2012 the Government has received widespread condemnation of the conditions it is imposing on thousands of vulnerable women travelling with foreign employers into the UK, often with little choice, who are given no protection or agency when they are here.”

Around 17,000 of the visas were granted last year. The majority were issued to families from Saudi Arabia and The United Arab Emirates.

The Government has not yet published a response to the reviews findings and recommendations.