Protect Migrant Domestic Workers From Abuse

Target: Home Secretary Theresa May

Goal: Abolish the visa system that makes migrant domestic workers vulnerable to workplace abuse.

Under current U.K. immigration rules, migrant domestic workers cannot change employers without becoming undocumented immigrants. This provides their employers a large amount of power over them, and a high level of impunity with regards to workplace abuses. Migrant domestic workers in the U.K. have reported working 18-hour days for weeks on end, having their passports confiscated, being confined to employer’s homes, surviving off leftovers and being paid as little as £100 ($160) a month.

An estimated 15,000 domestic migrant workers arrive in the U.K. every year. Many of these workers arrive with their employers and have previously experienced abuse by their employers. Tying domestic migrant workers’ visas to their employers effectively traps a large number of people in an abusive work environment where they work in slave-like conditions. If migrant workers were allowed to choose their employers, then there would be a pathway out of abusive working environment.

However, this alone is not enough. Domestic migrant workers need to be informed of their rights by their employers, and afforded enough time on their visas to have a reasonable chance of being hired by a new employer. Therefore, there need to be laws ensuring that employers tell migrant domestic workers what their rights are. Furthermore, the current six month term of migrant domestic workers visas puts them at a disadvantage in terms of finding employment as employers prefer to engage domestic workers for terms over six months. A longer term for visas would ensure that they are able to compete for other jobs. Sign our petition and ask Home Secretary Theresa May to push for reforms to the immigration system in the U.K. to protect the rights of migrant domestic workers, and prevent workplace abuses.


Dear Home Secretary May,

The tied visa system for domestic foreign workers has contributed to a culture of impunity wherein many employers routinely abuse domestic foreign workers and subject them to work environments close to slavery. Human Rights Watch has documented cases of passport confiscation, confinement to the employer’s home, and pay as low as £100 a month. Given that those on tied visas cannot find other employment, the system forces domestic foreign workers to choose between an abusive work environment and becoming and undocumented migrant.

Ending the tied visa system would be the first step in ensuring safe working environments in the U.K., and would drive up the wages paid to domestic workers as they will be able to compete for jobs. Furthermore, it will stop the flow of domestic foreign workers into the undocumented immigrant population. I urge you to abolish the tied visa system in order to ensure that the U.K. is a place where every employee can expect to be treated with respect.  


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: U.K. Home Office

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204 Signatures

  • Vanessa Fernandes
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  • Karen Marcinczyk
  • Jan Brown
  • Ina Calvano
  • Debbie Harrison
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