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How Hotels Can Be Part of the Solution of Ending Domestic Servitude

Shiva Foundation, UK Meenal Sachdev

Domestic servitude is one type of modern slavery recognised in the UK. It usually involves migrant domestic workers working in private households who are abused and exploited. Because the exploitation happens in private households, it is one of the most underreported types of modern slavery in the UK making up 8% of all reports to the National Referral Mechanism (the system under which suspected victims are recorded and supported in the UK).

Working with hospitality organisations, Shiva Foundation saw how this type of exploitation might come out of the shadows. Workers in hotels, in particular, are privy to indicators of exploitation that workers in other industries would never spot. Hotels offer a quasi-private space where sexual exploitation and domestic servitude have been known to take place. And with that in mind, Shiva Foundation worked with Kalayaan, a charity that supports migrant domestic workers, to include information about domestic servitude in training materials for all hotel staff. Indicators listed include passport withholding, the worker appearing malnourished, insufficient sleeping space for the domestic worker, excessive working hours and restricted movements. By spotting and reporting indicators, hotel staff have the chance to help someone who may be being abused and exploited – but for them to do so, they have to know what they are looking for.

  • For more information on the Shiva Foundation Stop Slavery Blueprint for hospitality organisations, visit here.

  • For a list of indicators of all types of exploitation, including domestic servitude, that could be spotted in hotels, visit here.

  • For real life case studies, visit here.

To learn more about how Kalayaan and other organisations are working to protect domestic worker rights, visit here.

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