In November 2022, a coalition of organisations working to protect the rights of live-in domestic and childcare workers sent a joint open letter to Grant Shapps at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in November 2022. The letter called on him to fulfil a commitment the government made in March 2022 to repeal the ‘Family Worker Exemption’ from National Minimum Wage regulations.
The exemption means live-in domestic workers can be exempted from the minimum wage where they are treated as a member of the family. This has created a shocking and discriminatory situation where a workforce that is overwhelmingly female and often from a migrant background can be systematically denied one of the most basic employment rights.
Dr Natalie Sedacca, Assistant Professor in Employment Law at Durham Law School, is conducting ongoing research on human rights and labour law with a particular interest in domestic workers and other marginalised workers, and in issues of gender and migration. Relying on research for her article ‘Domestic Workers, the ‘Family Worker’ Exemption from Minimum Wage, and Gendered Devaluation of Women’s Work’ published in the Industrial Law Journal (April 2022), she assisted in preparing the open letter.The network thanked Dr Natalie Sedacca and Professor Rosie Cox (Birkbeck, University of London) for their ongoing research and support at the end of their letter.
A year after the government’s commitment to repeal it, the family worker exemption remains in place and the joint campaign has therefore continued. Natalie recently signed, and coordinated further signatories to, a joint letter / statement designed to raise awareness of the situation. She has also assisted with drafting a Briefing to assist an MP in raising the matter in Parliament.