A Zimbabwean worker has reported that details of her interview with the U.K. Home Office were shared with her employer despite assurances of confidentiality.
She is now facing threats after disclosing that she was charged illegal recruitment fees, an exploitative practice which can put workers at risk of forced labor.
Subject to threats and intimidation
Just days after the interview, the 25-year-old care worker was asked by her employer why she had cooperated. The care home had received her name and information on the answers she gave during the interview, according to the Observer.
Since then, her employer has threatened her and accused her of misconduct in an appraisal. “I no longer feel safe,” she told the Observer.
Her visa depends on her employment at the care home, so if her sponsorship is revoked, she could risk deportation.
Illegal recruitment fees
The care worker revealed in the interview that she had paid around £1,500 to an agent to secure a job at a care home in Surrey in the U.K.
This is not an isolated case. An Observer investigation revealed that many overseas care workers are charged illegal fees and some are even forced to work in exploitative conditions to pay off their debts. Some have their wages or documentation withheld until they pay.
Many workers are too scared to inform the authorities in case they face consequences. Indeed, this worker told the Observer: “I wish I had just kept quiet.”
Effective safeguarding is long overdue
Migrant rights groups say that the case further emphasizes the need for safeguarding for whistleblowers who comply with government investigations.
Migrant workers are subjected to threats of deportation and are forced into debt bondage, or in some cases, modern slavery. It’s deeply concerning to see how this migrant worker has been treated.
The government must urgently address its safeguarding procedures to ensure that workers who disclose exploitative practices are protected from repercussions, including mistreatment at the hands of employers and recruiters, and deportation.