Skip to main content

Domestic Service: Conditions of Employment

Question for Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

UIN HL579, tabled on 24 June 2014

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to end the abuse and exploitation of domestic workers in the United Kingdom, especially those from overseas; what means they will use to ensure that such workers have contracts of employment and are regularly paid at least the minimum wage; and whether such protection can extend to the employees of foreign diplomats.

Answered on

2 July 2014

The UK already provides comprehensive employment and social protections to domestic workers and as a rule, domestic workers in the UK are entitled to the same employment rights as workers generally – including the National Minimum Wage (unless they are treated as if they are a member of the family), statutory sick pay, paid annual leave, protections from discrimination and unfair dismissals as well as other protections.

We are fully committed to ensuring that domestic workers are able to access their rights. Anyone who believes they are being mistreated by their employer in any way has access to a number of organisations who can help including the police, the Pay and Work Rights Helpline and Employment Tribunals.

The Government is also focused on ensuring that overseas domestic workers are informed about their rights and immigration and borders staff are trained to recognise potential victims of abuse. Overseas domestic workers must have been employed for 12 months before a visa will be granted and must have a signed statement of terms and conditions of employment in line with the National Minimum Wage legislation. Every overseas domestic worker is also provided with a letter informing them of their rights in the UK and where to get help if needed. This letter is provided in a range of languages as well as English.

Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, all foreign diplomats in the UK are required to respect our laws, including employment regulations. The FCO treats any allegation of mistreatment of staff in diplomatic households very seriously. Any allegations that the law has been broken are investigated by the police and the FCO will take appropriate steps to assist the investigation which may include requesting the withdrawal of diplomatic immunity.

Answered by

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills