Closing the loophole in the National Minimum Wage

The National Minimum Wage has proved to be the most effective way of obtaining compensation for victims of trafficking and labour exploitation. 

However, there is a loophole in the law which impacts on domestic workers.

Under regulation 57(3) National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015, if a domestic worker is treated as a member of the family, they have no right to be paid - anything at all. The courts have interpreted this exception broadly and found that, for instance, a worker who slept on the floor was treated as a member of the family and not entitled to any payment for her labour.

Although the Low Pay Commission has agreed with ATLEU that the loophole needs to be closed, the family worker exemption remains on the statute book.

However, following our campaign with the charity Kalayaan and Justice for Domestic Workers, this year the Home Office changed its rules so that visas for overseas domestic workers will not be granted unless the employer agrees to pay the National Minimum Wage.

Whilst we still believe that the law itself needs to be reformed, this change should make it far harder for those employing overseas domestic workers to argue that they do not have to pay the National Minimum Wage.