Despite the financial woes of many residents in Dubai since the economic slowdown began in 2009, salaries of maids in the city have doubled.
Residents of the city complain that there have been no hikes in the past few years but the situation is very different in their homes.
The asking rates of maids these days are much higher than what is set by their respective consulates.
Recommended salaries for Indian maids is Dh1,100 as advised by the Indian Embassy, while new regulations from the Philippines say the minimum salary should be Dh1,400.
As per the Sri Lankan embassy, the minimum salary for Sri Lankan maids is Dh825.
However, the reality is different say residents.
Maids in New Dubai are far more expensive than this and nearly all of them ask for a hike every year, complain residents.
“I have more than doubled my maid’s salary in the last four years. While recession has seen us cut back costs on a lot of things, this is one cost that has escalated year-on-year,” CS, an Indian resident living in the popular The Springs area, told Emirates 24|7.
“The average cost of a maid in my household per annum is around Dh30,000. This includes the salary, the visa fee, medical costs, food, toiletries and airfare to home country,” she added.
Besides this, getting a maid from an agency adds to the overall burden. “The costs involved in hiring a new maid are exorbitant. The agency fee or the cost of finding a new maid, the cost of bringing her here, and to top it all, the fee we have to pay to the government, make it a huge burden.
“In the case of an existing maid, the government fee, medical and the increase in salary to retain the maid per annum are equally huge. So, all this takes a toll on the family income that has not seen any increase since  recession,” she said.
“I got a maid from Sri Lanka in 2009 for Dh700. Since then I’ve never got a pay hike and lost my job once. I was lucky enough that I found another one in three months’ time. I’ve changed my child’s school so that I save on the fee but my maid’s salary has gone up to Dh1,400, exactly a 100 per cent jump,” said another resident.
Popular forums are full of residents complaining that they don’t know how much of a hike would be termed fair enough.
Many believe that the problem is more acute where both the spouses work and have a child at home. Residents also claim that an increase in salary does not result into better work.
“High salary does not always equate to better performance. I have learned the hard way with this one. I believe it's better to pay a housemaid at a fair/reasonable monthly salary ranging between Dh 1,500-1,800 a month based on experience.
“Obviously, one has to pay more if they have worked for you longer, have many children, larger houses, if the maids drive, etc. If they work hard, put in extra hours and babysit, then pay them a little bonus each month.
“I do this with my maid and she is so thrilled. I reward her hard work when I can. In other words, compensate extra work and initiative in that month. This prevents them from getting too comfortable in a base salary and gives them a reason to work hard,” writes a resident on the forum.
Another point of contention is that Western expats in the city pay their maids a lot more than other expats, which sets the market trend.
“Please bear in mind that Dh2,000 or even Dh1,500 is not the market rate. [It is much less]. These are salaries paid mostly by Western expats and the majority of the UAE population is not Western expats,” companied a pink-bunny on the forum.
“I pay significantly more than Dh2,000. However, at the time of renewing the contract she started telling me about her friends who earn Dh4,000. I made it very clear that I was not interested in what her friends earned.
“I did not think it was anyone else's business what she earned and that was between her and me. I don’t think she should be going round discussing it. She knew and I knew that she was earning well over market rate. If she wasn't satisfied and wanted to look for other work I would be disappointed but would support her. The issue has never been raised again,” wrote another resident on the site.