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15 Mar 2024

UK: Data reveals 'potentially thousands' of migrant care workers trapped in exploitative conditions due to visa status

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In March 2024, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) released an article alleging workers on the UK’s care worker visa experience abuse by employers. The article’s findings come from almost 175 worker testimonies gathered by TBIJ and Citizens Advice. These workers are employed by approximately 80 care providers via the health and care worker visa.

Abuses outlined in the article include rape, sexual harassment, intimidation, wage theft, extortionate recruitment fee charging, receiving fewer hours than promised, and destitution, among other human rights violations. The article notes in one case, a worker employed by Swan Care Solutions received no work or pay. Swan Care Solutions responded to TBIJ journalists, denying the allegations.

The article particularly focuses on difficulties migrant care workers experience raising concerns about labour abuse, particularly due to the fact the visa makes care workers dependent on their employer for the right to remain and work in the United Kingdom.

About a third (30%) of those who have been mistreated at work said they were scared to raise concerns about their manager or employer because they feared reprisals, including losing their work and visa, and threats to their safety.
"Visa system forces care workers to stay silent on rape and abuse", The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

TBIJ released a second article, also in March 2024, further exploring the exploitative working conditions experienced by migrant care workers in the United Kingdom. The article emphasises why migrant care workers are needed in the country amid acute labour shortages, including in the context of BREXIT, the COVID-19 pandemic, Government austerity policies, poor working conditions and workplace challenges, among other factors.

The article traces the growth of international recruitment and recent changes in UK policy, including a new law banning workers from bringing family to the country with them, which may increase isolation and make workers more vulnerable to abuse.