Domestic Staff Trafficked to the UK

Domestic Staff Trafficked to the UK

A case in which a Saudi diplomat  trafficked a woman to the UK and forced to work as his servant for 18 hours a day illustrates how careful seekers of domestic staff positions need to be when making job applications.

The diplomat, Jarallah al-Malki was ordered to pay compensation. He and his wife initially used diplomatic immunity laws to prevent Cherrylyn Reyes from suing them but her case was allowed after a Supreme Court ruling three years ago.

After arriving in the UK in January 2011 the Saudi couple confiscated Ms Reyes’s passport and set her to work at their London flat.

She was only allowed outside to take out rubbish and slept on the floor without a mattress. She was also barred from contacting her family.

Ms Reyes, who had previously worked as a servant for the couple in China and Saudi Arabia, worked unpaid from 6am to midnight every day, cleaning their flat, preparing food and looking after their three young children, a tribunal heard.

In March 2011 Ms Reyes fled to a police station and when officers went to the flat Mr Malki handed over her passport and said he had “forgotten” to pay her. The UK Border Agency concluded that Ms Reyes, who did not have a work visa, had been trafficked

At an Employment tribunal recently in Watford, Judge Aoliver Hyams said the couple had exploited “The vulnerability of Ms Reyes, resulting from her socioeconomic circumstances and her immigration status”.

They were ordered to pay Ms Reyes £4,763 in unpaid wages, £1,250 for failing to let her take breaks, £630.50 in holiday pay and £1,600 for failing to supply payslips. The tribunal dismissed her claims of racial discrimination and harassment.


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