The Government must act to change the UK visa system for migrant workers coming to Britain as domestic staff, according to the campaign group Justice 4 Domestic Workers.
The group is concerned that some people are treated as domestic slaves when they arrive in the UK and are unable to escape from disreputable employers. In April this year, the Government gave workers the right to change employers but as many of the visas are only granted for six months, they may have little choice but to remain. Previously, in order to secure a visa, workers were tied to a single employer.
Marissa Begonia from Justice 4 Domestic Workers told the BBC: “They are trapped in this system that tolerates abuse, that tolerates slavery, that tolerates trafficking.”
The group said that the UK should look at the way many European countries handle domestic staff visas, providing clearer contracts and less rigid demands on where they should live.
A woman who came to the UK from the Philippines to work as a domestic said that one employer had been abusive and violent. The woman threw a chair at her and demanded that she leave.
The Salvation Army said it is taking increasing numbers of calls from people trapped into a form domestic slavery due to the visas.
Major Anne Read, from the Salvation Army’s anti-trafficking team said: "There's an increasing number of victims of labour exploitation and also of domestic servitude. In Yorkshire we're seeing an increase of referrals along every category of this type of exploitation."
The Home Office said that it had reformed the visa system for overseas domestic staff by removing the condition that ties them to one employer and further reforms were being introduced.