Maid in UAE: Ebola, new rules drive scarcity fears

With the governments of the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka refusing to agree to the standard employment contract for domestic help drawn up by the UAE Ministry of the Interior recently, recruitment agents fear they will have to down their shutters within a month, the Arabic newspaper ‘Emarat Al Youm’ has reported.

With the emergence of the Ebola disease in some African countries, recruitment from there has also become impossible, the employment agencies say.

However, the Ministry of Labour (MoL) said it did not know of any recent closure of an employment agency. In fact, 16 new licences have been issued to employment agencies after the new unified contract was drafted, the MoL said.

Samer Marjan, owner of Maktea’a recruitment office, said the refusal of the governments of Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka of the new standard contract has made the situation difficult for employment agencies, particularly because demand for these nationalities is growing.

He said the emergence of Ebola disease in Africa has forced customers not to employ people from these countries.

He said his business will have to close within a month if the concerned department does not intervene and find a solution to the problem.

Zakaria Hariri, owner of Forsan Al Khaleej for Home Labourers Employment, claimed that seven employment offices had recently shut down and requested the MoL to recover the financial guarantee deposit.

He added that the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka still stand by their decision not to send domestic help to the UAE till a compromise about the standard contract is reached.

He said that he would close his office within a month if the current situation persists and asked concerned authorities to find a solution soon.

Abu Khaled, owner of an employment agency, said he will change his line of business due to the significant decline in income from labour recruitment.

Maryam Ali, an Emirati citizen, urged competent authorities to find a solution to the problem.

Maitha Al Shamsi, another Emirati, said when she went an employment agency, she was surprised to see that its owner had changed his business to a barber shop.

Brigadier Dr Rashid Sultan Al Khader Al Zaabi, official spokesperson of the Ministry for Naturalisation, Residency and Port Affairs at the Ministry of Interior, confirmed to ‘Emarat Al Youm’ that the governments  of the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka are seeking Dh1,500 as minimum salary for  their domestic workers.

He added the committee, which was assigned to draw up the standard contract, is in consultation with the embassies of these countries.

He pointed out that the department did not specify a salary for domestic workers but the embassies of the three countries wanted Dh1,500 as minimum salary which was rejected by the UAE Ministry of the Interior. 

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