HL Deb 12 December 1994 vol 559 cc108-9WA
Lord Hylton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will introduce further safeguards for overseas domestic workers admitted to the United Kingdom with their employers.

Baroness Blatch

We have been considering in consultation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Employment Department the arrangements under which overseas domestic workers are admitted to the United Kingdom. The Government believe that the majority of employers make satisfactory arrangements for the maintenance and accommodation of such employees while in the United Kingdom, but we have been concerned about cases where employers have failed to do so. We have therefore introduced additional requirements at the entry clearance stage in order to ensure that there is no misunderstanding about employers' obligations to their domestic workers:

  • —employers must give a written undertaking to provide adequate maintenance and accommodation (in particular a separate bedroom) for their domestic workers;
  • —employers must confirm that they have read and understood the note to employers and the leaflet for servants;
  • —employers must set out in writing the main terms and conditions of employment in the United Kingdom;
  • —domestic workers must be given a copy of the statement of the main terms and conditions of their employment at the entry clearance interview, with an explanation of them, and must confirm that they agree to those terms and conditions;
  • —the minimum qualifying age for domestic workers has been raised from 17 to 18.

These measures build on requirements already in place that all domestic workers must obtain entry clearance before coming here; must have been in continuous paid employment with the employer abroad for at least the previous 12 months before coming here with a visitor, or at least two years in all other cases, and must be interviewed (at least on their first visit with a particular employer) by the entry clearance officer separately from that employer and receive and understand a leaflet setting out their legal rights and where to go to for help. We believe that the new measures will provide valuable additional safeguards for domestic workers entering the United Kingdom.