A domestic servant who worked in the UK for four and a half years, 18 hours per day, for just 11p per hour has been awarded nearly £183,773.53 for the shortfall in National Minimum Wage and is expected to be awarded further substantial compensation at a further hearing in November 2015.

Permila Tirkey, an Indian woman of so called “low caste” left India to start work for UK based Mr and Mrs Chandok. The employment tribunal heard that, knowing that she was a Christian, the Chandoks forbade her to bring a bible with her and did not allow her to attend church. She was forced to sleep on the floor, and was not allowed contact with her family.

The Tribunal found unanimously for Ms Tirkey, deciding that:

  • the Chandoks had failed to pay her the National Minimum Wage throughout the period of her employment;
  • she had been unfairly dismissed;
  • she had been the victim of unlawful harassment on the ground of her race;
  • she had been the victim of indirect religious discrimination; and
  • the Chandoks were in breach of the Working Time Regulations.

On the religious discrimination point, it held that Ms Tirkey was the victim of indirect discrimination on the ground of her religion or belief because, as a result of the Chandoks' desire to control her activities, she was denied the opportunity to possess a holy book and denied the opportunity to practise her religion.

However, the judgment did not fully explore the specific issue of caste discrimination, presumably because the Tribunal found the broader issue of unjustified indirect religious discrimination proved and decided that it was not necessary to take the caste issue further.

The case was funded by legal aid, apparently after a struggle, as employment cases are now not funded by legal aid, except in very exceptional circumstances.

The full judgment can be found here Tirkey v Chandok and another ET/3400174/2013