In an effort to further improve the hiring process and working conditions of the many domestic workers in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, all the six countries in the bloc are in discussions to to roll out a unified GCC housemaid contract.
The implementation of such a contract is dependent on its approval by each of the member nations in the bloc.
In a meeting held between the GCC labour undersecretaries in Kuwait City on Tuesday, the provisions of a unified Gulf contract for domestic helpers were agreed upon.
“The blueprint of the contract sets the daily working hours at eight, limits overtime to two hours, requires the provision of decent accommodation, and stipulates the right for days off,” said Jamal Al Dosari, the Director-General of the Public Authority for Workforce in Kuwait.
He made the comments following a meeting of the GCC labour undersecretaries in Kuwait City.
“It bans employers from keeping the passports of their employees, ensures the freedom of domestic helpers to move or live outside the home of the employer and to travel at any time. It also commits employers to provide air tickets for the helpers at the end of the contract,” Al Dosari said, as quoted by Kuwait News Agency (Kuna).
There have been several amendments in the draft to strengthen the working relationship between families and the domestic workers and it also aims to protect the rights of all the parties involved.
As of now the countries that send housemaids to the GCC have their own criteria for their nationals, which is different from each other.
They also have a minimum salary to be given to their nationals working as housemaids in the GCC and often the employer has to sign a contract with the consulate of the country from where the domestic helper is hired.
For example, the Indian embassy in the UAE requires that the house help should not be less than 30 years of age and the minimum wage set by the embassy is Dh1,100 per month with a mandatory refundable security deposit of Dh9,200 per maid (if employed by an Indian national).
On the other hand, the Sri Lankan embassy in the UAE requires a refundable deposit of Dh3,675 for housemaids and the minimum salary is set at Dh825 per month.
What is stated above is something that employers choosing to hire a maid from a respective country need to comply with.
However, “minimum wage” and “market rate” are very different and in many cases if employers are happy with their house help they wouldn’t mind paying them more, with the going salary, especially in New Dubai areas, ranging between Dh1,500 and Dh2,000 per month.