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Yes, Domestic Workers Have Rights Too | Immigration Matters

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I am sure you have seen the recent worldwide media reports about Liz Hurley’s former domestic worker, Violet DeSouza, who was fired from the famous star’s household last year. I expect she was actually employed by Arun Nayar, her Indian husband, as Liz would not be able to satisfy the rules in order to bring Ms DeSouza into the UK on a domestic visa.

She had consulted a colleague of mine, also an Immigration Adviser for advice last summer, shortly after she had been dismissed by her multi millionaire employer. An application for a new domestic visa was successfully submitted to the Home Office.

Upon hearing that she was paid just 8000 rupees a week (£100), the adviser suggested she consult the National Minimum Wage Team to investigate her low pay claims and employment rights, which she did. Her case eventually reached an Employment Tribunal, but was settled out of court for a “five figure sum” the day before the case was due to be heard.

Domestic workers will lose ‘concession rights’ under Points Based System

This high profile case does prove that domestic visa holders have the same rights as UK employees and can exercise those rights if they suffer abuse or exploitation. However, these rights may be compromised under proposed immigration rule changes.

At present, the Home Office allows domestic workers to change their employment 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 employment, may apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

But the new Points Based System (PBS) will abolish this right by putting domestic workers under ‘Tier 5’ of PBS, which means they will accompany their employers as “visiting business persons” for up to six months. They will not be entitled to change employment.

Points to consider

  • Check your Employment Contract; if you don’t have one, talk to your employer. Do not wait until it has all gone sour before approaching your employer as most issues can be resolved amicably without resorting to legal action.
  • Immigration Rules are different to Employment Rules.
  • Check your visa and ensure it is renewed well ahead of time.

If all else fails and you are forced to runaway from an abusive employer, or your visa is about to expire and you are not sure about the rules, please contact me.

If you have any specific questions or comments, or need advice, you may email me: or phone me on 020 8905 1822

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