Press Centre

Media Release 12.09.14: Campaigners welcome new protections for workers in diplomatic households in Ireland

New measures will help prevent labour exploitation and trafficking

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) today welcomed new measures to protect workers in the homes of diplomats in Ireland. Diplomats employing domestic workers in their homes must now comply with a list of requirements aimed at preventing labour exploitation and human trafficking.

Aoife Smith, MRCI Community Worker, said “We first came across this issue in 2005, and since then we have uncovered several serious cases of trafficking for forced labour in private diplomatic households in Dublin. Workers – usually young women – are brought into the country and forced to work long hours for little or no pay. Even if they manage to leave the situation and get help, they have little hope of justice or redress because the perpetrator simply claims diplomatic immunity. That’s why these preventative measures are so important.”

Ms Smith continued “The new requirements match international best practice and will help to prevent further cases of exploitation, trafficking and domestic servitude. For many years we - and the courageous women who have endured exploitation and abuse at the hands of diplomats in Ireland – have campaigned for these measures to be put in place. This is an emotional day for them especially.”

Campaigner Tina stated “This is a great day for domestic workers. I was brought to Ireland to work for a diplomat when I was only 17 years old. I was never paid; I suffered for 3 years in isolation and fear. When I complained I was threatened. These measures will prevent this from happening to other vulnerable women. They will remove the incentive for diplomats to exploit their workers and create a better culture of rights. I believe that these measures can address the isolation and fear experienced by some domestic workers working in diplomatic households.”

Ms Smith concluded, “These new measures, along with Ireland’s ratification of the ILO Domestic Workers Convention last month, show that Ireland is committed to promoting the rights of workers in private homes, protecting them from exploitation and preventing abuse. We’ll monitor implementation of these measures closely to ensure that commitment is upheld.”



The new measures in brief:

These measures will ensure greater transparency and create the conditions for greater compliance within this sector. These are preventative measures and will create a culture of rights for domestic workers within diplomatic households. They draw on best practice across the EU. The main provisions are as follows -

Only diplomats and ambassadors can bring over domestic staff. As employers, they must:

  • Agree, as part of the contract, to uphold Irish law including minimum wage standards
  • Provide payslips
  • Pay the domestic worker by electronic transfer to a separate bank account set up for the employee and accessed only by the employee
  • Agree to inspection by a labour inspector

The Department of Foreign Affairs will:

  • Link domestic workers with MRCI from the outset, which will help prevent the isolation that feeds exploitation
  • Refuse to renew or grant further visas in offending cases
  • Monitor ongoing situation and link with MRCI and others to review progress

In addition:

  • The domestic worker must be over 21 years of age
  • At point of recruitment in the country of origin, the domestic worker will meet with an Irish embassy official to be briefed on their rights and entitlements
  • The Protocol section in the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will be a point of contact for the domestic worker in Ireland. They will receive a Protocol card which will have to be renewed each year. They have to renew this personally in DFA which provides an opportunity for Protocol to engage with DW on their ongoing situation.

The guidelines are available in full here.