Abu Dhabi: The Cabinet has set up a taskforce to draft a law to regulate the relationship between domestic workers and their sponsors. The proposed law will ensure rights and duties of both sides are guaranteed, WAM reported.

The cabinet has assigned Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Interior, to set up a team made up of representatives from the ministries of interior, labour and justice to enact the legislation. According to its mandate, the team will present proposals on provisions that will be embodied in the domestic helpers' law.

In setting regulations the team will be guided by local and international legislation and systems.

Dr Anwar Gargash UAE, Minster of State for Federal National Council Affairs, praised the Cabinet move.

"We are fully aware in the UAE of the need to improve the situation of domestic workers and have been working systematically towards that goal," he told Gulf News yesterday.

He described the decision as a major step.

Dr Gargash, who is also Chairman of the Permanent Committee for Monitoring the UAE's Image Abroad, added the move was an important milestone in protecting the rights of domestic workers in line with national and international standards.

The decision taken by the Cabinet, he said, builds on the measures already taken this year to protect and regulate the domestic workforce including the introduction of a mandatory employment contract.

The UAE Human Rights watchdog has recently demanded that domestic workers be covered by the labour law "because the contract regulating the relationship between domestic helpers and their employers fails short of the minimum human rights and international labour standards."

In a memorandum submitted to the Director of the Naturalisation and Residency Department, the UAE Human Rights Organisation said the contract violates international labour standards because it does not provide for a specific number of daily working hours and a weekly day off.

The memorandum, signed by Abdul Gaffar Hussain, Chairman of the organisation, detailed how the contract violates international standards and how it needs to be revised.

Recommendations: Right to privacy and weekly rest

The UAE Human Rights Organisation has provided recommendations on a number of issues concerning the contract regulating the relationship between domestic helpers and their employers.

  • The contract should provide for a minimum wage because low salary is a major reason why a domestic helper absconds from her or his sponsor.
  • Minimum working hours and specific duties for each job.
  • System to transfer wages to banks regularly and on time.
  • Proper accommodation which ensures privacy is observed.
  • Specific daily working hours and weekly rest.
  • Equal annual leave as compared to other workers.
  • Providing a hotline to receive complaints from domestic workers against any abuses.
  • Contract to be translated into languages known by domestic helpers.