Foreign placement agencies in the UAE looking to hire Filipino housemaids for employers in Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah will only be able to do so if their track record is “clean”, Philippine labour attache Delmer Cruz told Gulf News Image Credit: Gulf News archive

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.