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
Keywords - Human rights, labour rights, migrant workers, domestic workers, UK migration policies