Full-time maids almost unaffordable: residents

Dubai residents are feeling the pinch when it comes to hiring full-time househelps. Majority of residents claim that the cost of recruiting domestic help continues to increase while their income has not increased proportionately in the recent past.

An irked resident said: "The maid agencies seem to be increasing their placement charges each year. The money they take from us as salary for the maid is also increasing. The sad part is that they don’t even pay the maids half of what they take from us.”

Even the embassies and consulates of different countries that are main providers of domestic help in the UAE increase the costs.

Most recently, the embassy of Nepal have made a security deposit of Dh5,000 mandatory. “I’m in the process of getting a maid from Nepal. I’ve booked her tickets and now this new rule about the security deposit has come into effect,” complained a resident living in The Springs area of Dubai.

“.. After we check your documents, we ask you to submit these documents along with refundable Dh5,000 as security deposit (for the new domestic workers only) and Dh300 as service charge (non-refundable),” read the website of the Embassy of Nepal in the UAE.

Al Ahliya agency gets maids from countries such as the Philippine and Indonesia. “We charge Dh8,150 for getting a maid from the Philippines and Dh9,250 from Indonesia. This is just to process the documents and includes one way air fare to the UAE. It excludes all kinds of visa charges, which is to be paid by the sponsor. The salary for Filipinos range from Dh1,100-Dh1,000 and Dh800-Dh700 for Indonesians,” an executive at the agency told 'Emirates24|7'.

Another agency UIT providing Filipino maids charge Dh2,700 per month for a two-year contract. Their office charges are Dh3,000 with an additional security deposit of Dh5,000. The agency provides one-time replacement. The maid remains on the visa of the company, an executive at the agency said.

“They have changed their charges. I took a maid from them in 2007. The office commission was Dh2,000 and the monthly charges were less,” said Anita, an Indian mother, who’d hired from the same agency.  Even the hourly services of the agencies seem to be getting more expensive each year. Al Deyar maid service charges Dh70 per hour for a two maid team.

Getting maids by word-of-mouth is a much better option, say residents. In this case one can save on agency commission and other charges, say families who have got their help from other sources like the classifieds.

“I think the costs have stayed pretty much the same with the very expensive fees for the annual visa renewal, and then the monthly salary is up to each employer. I think the relationship between a maid and her employer should be looked at as business relationship: the employer covers medical, annual flight home, holidays off, etc. and an annual leave of one month. I treat my maid like I want to be treated by my boss,” said Anja Schwerin, a German national living in Dubai.

The minimum salaries set by the embassies are not a norm now. Most maids in New Dubai get more than what is set by the embassies.

“Around Dh2,000 per month seems to be the average and you should also include some allowances for food, toiletries, phone credit etc.,” read a post on a forum. “I increased my maid’s salary about three months back and she’s already asking me for another hike,” said an Indian mother from Emirates Living. “I get to hear all kinds of stories from my maid. She tells me that her friends even get money for weekly manicure and pedicure and entertainment allowance each Friday,” said another resident from the same area. “Her demands are up when nothing has gone up for me in the past three years,” she added.

Gaurangi Pradhan, a mother-of-two, said: “I definitely feel that the cost of hiring a maid has gone up. Not only on the salary front but also on the countless charges that you have to pay right from the stage of typing for the employment visa up until when the visa is stamped on her passport. With regards to the salary of the maid it depends on demand and supply. You might think that people are leaving the UAE because of the slowdown, and so demand for maids have reduced, but in reality the number of advertisements for ‘housemaid wanted’ and the desperation to get a good and trusted one has only gone up. Also, with the different embassies implementing strict rules on immigration and minimum-salary requirements it has become increasingly difficult to source them from legal channels. With regards to the charges that the UAE immigration requires us to pay it is definitely not justified."

 “I feel that the housemaid category is the most pampered among all the other unskilled labourer categories. In most cases they have more than comfortable accommodation, home-cooked food, no transportation costs, comfortable working conditions and timely salary etc. Considering the above, I feel that the first thing the individual embassies should do is cut all the bureaucratic procedures and unnecessary charges for getting them here. Also, the UAE immigration should get away with the various charges at different stages - applying for visa, depositing visa, stamping visa, medical test, charges for refund of deposit etc. Salary negotiations between the employer and the maid should be left between the parties and should not be dictated by the embassies. The recruitment agencies are often the biggest culprits as they charge sourcing fees from us as well as they take money from the maids. The maximum that the recruitment agencies should charge is one month salary and that too after the employer stamps the visa on the maid’s passport,” she added.

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