A House Maid during duty in Dubai. Photo: A.K Kallouche/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi/Dubai: Senior diplomats and labour recruitment agencies welcomed the new law protecting domestic workers in the UAE saying it’s a step in the right direction.

President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has signed into law the protection of domestic workers in the UAE which provides them essential working conditions, including a weekly day off, 30 days of paid annual leave and the right to retain personal documents. The new law also provides for a daily rest of at least 12 hours, including at least eight consecutive hours.

Philippine Ambassador Constancio Vingno, Jr. said, while he has yet to see the copy of the actual legislation, the law’s provisions released to the media are good indicators of the protection that will be accorded to domestic workers.

“The law has made it clear that domestic workers are now in the same level as other workers who are skilled, highly skilled and professionals as they now have better terms and conditions in employment. It’s a vast improvement from the former setup when no law was in place specifically for domestic workers. Problems like contract substitution will be stemmed and there is no more room for fooling any party with this new law,” Vingno told Gulf News.

Mohammad Imran, the Bangladeshi Ambassador to the UAE, said: “As a labour-sending nation, we appreciate the move as it will benefit our domestic workers.” He said the 12-hour daily rest [as stipulated by the law] would help them work more sincerely and attentively.

Husin Bagis, the Indonesian Ambassador to the UAE, said: “We welcome the UAE’s step to provide a legal framework to protect and ensure the rights of domestic workers.”

Dinesh Kumar, the first secretary and community welfare counsellor at the Indian Embassy, welcomed the move to bring the domestic workers under the purview of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. The provisions such as 30-day annual leave and 12-hour daily rest will ensure better working conditions. “We hope the new law will be implemented in letter and spirit.”

Krishna Aryal, second secretary and information officer at the Nepal Embassy said the new law is a clearly positive development. He appreciated the five major provisions such as weekly day-off, 30-day annual paid leave, right to retain the personal documents including passport, daily rest of 12 hours and bringing them under the domain of Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

Labour supply agencies in the UAE likewise lauded the UAE government for the landmark legislation.

Shoukat Ali, owner Al Sanabil Manpower, said the law is a step in the right direction “as it is for the protection of maids. If they have stipulated the number of hours a maid has to work, including his or her rest hours and days, it is good because they are also human beings. They also need rest. I agree that maids have to be protected and given their salaries on time,” Ali said.

Ali, however, expressed concern about giving maids the right to keep their passports as he said they are at risk of losing the document or could run away anytime.

Ahmad Hatim from Al Nasr Service Company is all for the protection of maids but disagrees with giving weekly days off for young maids as it could “expose them as they are vulnerable and could be cheated by people with ill intentions into having illicit relations.”