Dubai: UAE residents hiring housemaids from India can now get a waiver of the Dh9,000 bank guarantee, only if they recruit the workers through the approved state agencies, officials told Gulf News.
The Indian government last week announced the scrapping of the $2,500 (about Dh9,250) security deposit mandated for recruiting housemaids and other blue-collar female workers to 18 countries, including the GCC.
However, Indian officials in the UAE have clarified that the waiver is given only if the female workers are recruited through state government-run recruitment agencies (listed at the end of this article).
“Employers still have to pay this security deposit if they are recruiting the housemaids directly,” said Consul General of India in Dubai, Vipul.
He said the government decided to scrap the deposit as “we are fairly sure that their [workers’] rights will be protected if they are recruited through the state agencies.”
To prevent exploitation of women workers, in 2007 India stopped all recruitment of Indian women for overseas jobs if they are below 30 years of age and do not possess a minimum educational qualification of secondary school.
The next year, the government hiked the minimum wages for housemaids to Dh1,100 and mandated the $2,500 equivalent bank deposit as a security for clearance of their recruitment from the Indian missions in 18 countries where emigration clearance is required for these workers.
Vipul said the deposit was introduced to safeguard the rights of the workers.
“If we have some kind of a security, then it is easier to persuade the employer defaulting on payments to pay up the salary from that security. Now, if the recruitment is through the state agency it is easier to hold accountability in India.”
There are enough safeguards for recruitment through approved recruitment agencies and the latter can be held responsible if the workers recruited through them are exploited. The waiver should be seen as an incentive for employers to opt for recruitment through state agencies, he added.
Dinesh Kumar, first secretary (community affairs) at the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi said most of the Indian housemaids here are not recruited through the government agencies.
From June 2015, foreign employers have been able to directly recruit Indian housemaids through the e-Migrate online recruitment system. “Such employers still have to pay the security deposit,” Kumar clarified.
“In the embassy, we mostly receive complaints from those who are circumventing the rules and coming through illegal channels.”
In most of the cases, he said, women are recruited directly by their employers after bringing them on visit visas or through unauthorised agents.
Complaints of exploitation
According to the Indian government, complaints of exploitation reported by Indian women in 18 ECR countries include non-payment of salaries and denial of legitimate labour rights and benefits such as non-issuance or renewal of residence permits, overtime allowance, weekly holidays, working for longer hours, refusal to grant exit or permission to visit India, refusal to allow the worker on final exit visa after completion of their contracts and not providing medical and insurance facilities etc. Incidents of confinement, abandoning of housemaids by their sponsors have also been reported, said a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs in August.
According to the figures presented by Indian Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on August 2, Indian missions in the UAE recorded 239 complaints from female workers in 2016. In 2015, 219 complaints were reported, a jump from 123 in 2014.
Kumar said nonpayment of salaries, longer working hours, bad working conditions, and not allowing them to go home are the main complaints received from female workers and domestic maids here.
“If we can’t solve the issues, we shift them to our shelter. We also provide food allowances, outpass and free air ticket where it is necessary.”
He said there had been cases where the missions here had to make deductions from the security deposit to make payments for the maids.
State-run recruiting agencies for female workers from India
NORKA Roots – Non-Resident Keralites Affairs Roots (Kerala)
ODEPC – Overseas Development and Employment Promotion Consultant (Kerala)
OMCL – Overseas Manpower Corporation Ltd (Tamil Nadu)
UPFC – Uttar Pradesh Financial Corporation (Uttar Pradesh)
OMCAP – Overseas Manpower Company A P Ltd (Andhra Pradesh)
TOMCOM – Telangana Overseas Manpower Company Ltd (Telangana)