You may have seen the recent media reports concerning Liz Hurley, settling an employment claim made by her former domestic worker.
The claim was settled out of court for a reputed “five figure sum” the day before the case was due to heard.
Immigration Adviser Equalisers Ltd was consulted by Ms Hurley’s domestic worker for immigration advice last summer, shortly after she had been dismissed by her multi millionaire employer, said to be worth £13 million. An appropriate application was submitted to the Home Office and was successful.
At the time she consulted us, we mentioned that we had dealt with many similar cases over the years and that we had signposted a number of clients to the National Minimum Wage Team to investigate their claims, many of which resulted in successful settlements. We therefore suggested that in view of what she was alleging, she should seek specialist advice concerning National Minimum Wage and employment law.
When she came to our office in October, 2007, to collect her papers after her successful immigration application, we again suggested that she should seriously consider seeking specialist advice concerning National Minimum Wage and employment law and this time she acted on our advice.
This high profile case is only the tip of the iceberg, and has only been reported by the media because of prominence of the other parties. Many more such cases are unreported, and many more do not even exercise their rights at all.
If a domestic worker has suffered abuse or has been exploited by any employer they should seriously consider seeking specialist advice concerning National Minimum Wage and employment law, in order to exercise their rights.
We have been dealing with such cases since the announcement of the Domestic Worker Concession on the 23rd July, 1998 by Mike O’Brien (the then Immigration Minister), and which was later incorporated into the Immigration Rules on the 18th September, 2002.
Domestic workers will lose rights given to them by a Labour Government
Domestic workers in private households are entitled to change their domestic employment within the currency of their leave with authorisation by the Home Office provided they remain as a domestic worker in a private household.
They can renew each year, and after a period of five or more years continuous leave in that category, they can then apply for settlement or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), subject to taking and passing the “Life in the UK” Test. These rights were achieved after a long and hard campaign by Kalayaan and the Unions.
But the Government is about to turn the clock back to pre 23rd July, 1998 and remove the, with the introduction of the 5 Tier Points Based System about to be implemented. Under the points system domestic workers will lose rights given to them by a Labour Government.
It has been suggested that domestic workers, falling under Tier 5 and being allowed to accompany their employers as “visiting business persons” (which appears to be complete nonsense) for a period of up to six months, will not be entitled to change their domestic employment, will not qualify for Indefinite Leave (ILR) and will be expected to leave the UK with their employers.
This will of course not prevent the abuse and exploitation, or stop the domestic workers from running away from such “akin” to slavery conditions as they do now. This will only compound the problem.
The British Embassies/High Commissions are supposed to interview domestic workers on their own at least before their first visit to the UK and give them an “information for domestic workers” leaflet in their own language which points out their rights in the UK. However, experience shows that this rarely happens, simply because they are interviewed with their employer, or are not interviewed at all.
The relevant paragraphs of the immigration rules, the Home Office Immigration Directorates Instructions (IDI’s), and the “information for domestic workers” leaflet are published on the Home Office website, but the newly run away domestic workers we encounter do not know how to use a computer, let alone have access to one.
Most domestic workers originate from the “third” world (e.g. the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) and are brought to the UK (they have no choice or say in the matter) by their usually wealthy visiting employers mainly from the Middle Eastern States.
This is a humanitarian and human trafficking problem which the Government wants to “sweep under the carpet” out of sight, rather than tackle it properly.
The problem will not go away, and will only be compounded if the Government take away domestic workers hard earned rights and endeavour to restrict them to Tier 5 of the new system.