Philippines toughens rules for maids in Gulf

New contracts must include minimum wage of Dh1,500 and allowing maids to keep passports

The Philippines has told employers in the UAE they must pay its domestic workers at least Dh1,500 a month and ensure they keep their passports with them all the time before it allows them to work in the country.

The Asian nation, one of the main domestic workers suppliers to the oil-rich Gulf, has told employment offices in the UAE and the Philippines that it would not allow its citizens to work as housemaids in the Emirates unless these conditions are met, the Dubai-based 'Emarat Al Youm' Arabic language daily said.

The new terms also include the need for the employer to provide the maid with a separate living room and to report to the Philippine embassy in the UAE at its request.

The employer must also provide the embassy with all details of the family, its members and ages before hiring a Philippine domestic worker.

“Recruitment offices in the UAE said they have been made to sign these contracts and are held responsible according to Philippine laws,” the paper said. “They considered the new measures as an improper interference in their business as no Philippine domestic worker will be allowed to come to the UAE unless these offices sign those contracts.”

The paper quoted Mahmoud Mohammed, manager of Bin Awas domestic workers hiring office in the UAE, as saying they were told by the Philippine embassy these contracts are binding and that all domestic workers would not be permitted to leave that country unless the contracts are signed.

“We have suffered losses of nearly $18,000 after the Philippine embassy stopped some contracts,” said Isam Qiyami, head of Alamana domestic services office.

''Emarat Al Youm' quoted a senior official at the UAE ministry of interior as saying the ministry does not recognise these contracts.“What we have here is a unified domestic worker contract which is handed to the employer when issuing a visa for a maid…it has to be signed by the employer and the worker and it includes all rights and duties for both the employer and the employee, including the salary, break and other rights,” said Major General Nassir Al Awadi Al Minhali, the ministry’s assistant undersecretary for naturalisation and residence.

The paper also quoted a Philippine embassy official as confirming the introduction of the new contracts, which he said include a minimum monthly wage of $400 (Dh1,462) plus health care, free food and other benefits. He said these benefits are reasonable on the grounds housemaids in the UAE work an average 18 hours a day.“The new measures taken by the authorities in the Philippines strictly ban any Filipina from leaving her country unless through authorised employment offices, which must ensure the new contracts are signed,” he said. 

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