UAE | Visa

Tough domestic helpers' law soon in UAE

New draft suggests stiff penalties

  • By Bassma Al Jandaly, Senior Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 March 29, 2012
  • Gulf News

Housemaid
  • Image Credit: Gulf News archive
  • The official said the ministry will deal sternly with the sponsor or any other person who violates the terms of contract of a domestic worker. The picture is for illustrative purposes only.

Dubai: A draft law has proposed the imposition of severe penalties on sponsors of domestic helpers if they breached the contract of employment and ask their domestic help to do a job which they are not supposed to do.

A senior official at the Ministry of Interior, who did not want to be identified, said those who employ domestic helpers not on their sponsorship would also incur severe penalty.

"Once the draft law is approved, it will help the ministry to implement rigorously the rules and regulations governing the employment of domestic workers," he said.

The official said the ministry will deal sternly with the sponsor or any other person who violates the terms of contract of a domestic worker.

"Once the law is approved, there will be zero tolerance from the ministry against those who even lend their domestic helpers to friends or family members," he said.

"There will be a new law that will take care of the domestic helpers' rights, the sponsors' rights and will keep close watch on recruitment agencies too," the official said.

The official said 17 professions will come under the domestic helpers' category of the residency law.

"We have added new professions to the list of domestic helpers such as sailor, private PRO, private teacher, private nurse, private coach, horse groomer, and private worker," he said.

He said the new law will also reduce the fees expatriates pay to the residency department in order to employ domestic helpers. It will likely be on par with the amount paid by Emiratis.

Deposit amount

"We will reduce the Dh5,000 deposit paid by the expatriates to employ domestic helpers. It could become Dh2,000 fees without the deposit," he said.

According to the existing law for domestic helpers, residence permits for maids or domestic help are for a period of one year if the sponsor is an expatriate, but if the sponsor is Emirati then the period is two years.

The official said a committee of the Interior and Defence at the Federal National Council is working on a new comprehensive domestic helpers' law which is under study and will be approved soon by the authority.

He added that the Ministry of Interior will be the only body that will be in charge of all issues related to visas, work permits and dispute of domestic workers.

The official said there will be new work permit between the sponsor and the domestic helper that will preserve the rights of both. However, the official did not give details about the draft of the new work permit.

"The committee is at the moment working on regulating the prohibiting of making the domestic helpers do work not mentioned in the labour contract or work for someone else other than the sponsor," he said. He said the next step will focus on domestic helpers' work permit.

"We are aware that there are many recruitment agencies that are abusing the law and for that reason there will be Ministry of Interior rules and regulations that will closely monitor those agencies who will be under the ministry," he said.

Currently, there are different sections at the residency department to deal with disputes involving domestic workers and their sponsors. Cases which cannot be solved at the sections are then referred to the courts, he said.

Once the new law comes into force, a special court will handle cases of domestic helpers, he added.

Check the category
  • The new professions that will fall under the domestic helpers' category are (only for household, not companies): Housemaid, imam, private sailor, watchman, household shepherd, household horse groomer, private driver, household falcon carer and trainer, domestic worker, housekeeper, private coach, private teacher, baby sitter, household farmer, private nurse, private PRO, private agriculture engineer
  • The existing professions under domestic helpers category: Maid, household farmer and private driver

Comments (14)

  1. Added 10:28 March 31, 2012

    It is really a great great help the decision of reducing the visa charges for housemaid from Dh5,000 to Dh2,000 is indeed a very considerate move by the authorities. . I am planning to bring a housemaid from my home country this month. It would be great if the embassies of other countries considered to reduce the hefty sums they take as refundable security deposits for housemaids to something affordable. I will be very much grateful to the authority if this rule pass as soon as possible and maximum people can get big help from this decision. I am thankful advance this authority.

    Amit Kumar, SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 17:21 March 29, 2012

    having a Maid is a very 19th century concept..andf in the third world Nobody has maids these days unless they are lazy to do things themselves!!

    nick, dubai, United Kingdom

  3. Added 15:06 March 29, 2012

    The biggest reason for people to keep unlawful domestic helpers is the Government's very high charges for domestic helper visa and lack of refund upon the helper wanting to return before expiry of visa. If the visa fee is made AED 2000 and refundable for unused period, no one will risk keeping illegally employed domestic helpers

    Peter Hudson, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 14:24 March 29, 2012

    Would also be good if number of working hours per day would be written on the contract. They should not be abused working from early morning till late night and can only go to bed as and when approved by the employer. Provide them with day-off every week. Allow them to attend weekend service in their own churches. A house helper would be more productive if they have peace of mind and have the feeling of belonging from their employers. It hurts to see in food courts some domestic helpers sitting separately without food while her employers are feasting on foods on nearby table. Let us love our fellowmen.

    Reg Cucal, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 14:06 March 29, 2012

    Can Gulf News give us a feedback as to when this proposed law will take effect? Also it would be better to provide us with the complete requirements and inclusive cost in hiring a housemaid. Many expatriate in the U.A.E. would be very happy to have this law approved but in the meantime we should get also a very clear picture as what are the expected cost involved.

    Roy Moreno, Abu Dhabi, Philippines

  6. Added 13:23 March 29, 2012

    I have heard about people who make their domestic helpers sleep in terribly tight places underneath the stairs half in half and out on floor and in some cases in the open laundry areas where the tv noise goes loud all night where they are ordered to get up early in the morning. These things should be monitored somehow. This is utter humilialation of humanity.

    fans, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 12:53 March 29, 2012

    Please consider the moral side of those who are coming here to work as a maid, they may be the only bread winner of their family at back home. Just think, we brought them here to serve our family, leaving their family in their country. With what purpose they came here by sacrificing, at least help them with good standards of rules and regulations, and salary, with change of job facility.

    Suresh Punnappilly, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 12:52 March 29, 2012

    Great News !

    Mona, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 11:22 March 29, 2012

    Getting tough on the employers will hardly improve upon the welfare of these hard working helpers. Setting up a social service that can monitor working conditions on a regular basis to ensure that they are not maltreated is better.

    Petr, RAK, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 10:37 March 29, 2012

    The decision of reducing the visa charges for housemaid from Dh5,000 to Dh2,000 is indeed a very considerate move by the authorities. It would have been of great help if they let us know when this will be enforced. I am planning to bring a housemaid from my home country this month. It would be great if the embassies of other countries considered to reduce the hefty sums they take as refundable security deposits for housemaids to something affordable.

    Raisa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  11. View more comments

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