Domestic Workers: What are your rights?
Housemaids, watchmen and security guards, gardeners, and babysitters can all be referred to as domestic workers. Most of the time, these workers have fewer laws and organizations protecting them. However, a law protecting the rights of domestic workers was approved by the President of UAE His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. This law outlines the fees, labor contracts, employer and employee obligations, recruitment and employment offices, inspection, penalties, termination of contracts and settlement of disputes.
Before leaving their country of origin, a domestic worker should be provided with a copy of the job being offered by the recruitment agency. This contract is to be approved by The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE). This is to prove that the job being offered is genuine.
The contact should include the work conditions and environment, the salary, and the working hours as recommended by the executive regulations. The workers should be aware of this information before leaving their countries. They should also be aware of agent fees and the duration of the job. The employer or the worker may terminate the contract if either one fails to meet the requirements. Sometimes, the contract may be terminated without any cause.
The Rights of the Workers
According to the law, domestic workers have the following rights:
# Their wages should be paid as stated in the contract within ten days from the day they are due. A receipt proving that the payment has been made is also supposed to be signed. No deductions are to be made from the salary except if the worker had a debt or for the repair of damage caused. However, this is to be made after the ruling of a court. Domestic workers have needs and responsibilities to take care of. Moreover, paying domestic workers improves their overall output and they are less likely to terminate the contract. If a worker decides to quit without the knowledge of the employer, he/she must inform the ministry in no less than 48 hours.
# The employers are expected to give their domestic workers one day of paid rest each week and twelve hours of rest per day this includes eight hours of consecutive rest. Workers are entitled to thirty days of annual paid leave, fifteen days of paid sick leave, and fifteen days of unpaid sick leave. In case of accidents while on the job, the domestic workers have a right to be compensated.
# The employees should treat their workers in a way that preserves their dignity and respect for their body. If the employer prefers work clothes, he should provide them at his own expense. The domestic workers are entitled to decent meals and accommodation provided by the employer.
# The recruitment agencies are supposed to respect the rights of domestic workers and to avoid discrimination based on religion, gender, race, nationality or social origin. The workers should be allowed to keep their passports and National Identity Cards
# The employer is supposed to give a round-trip ticket to his workers every two years. In addition to this, the employer should also provide medical insurance to the worker.
In case there are disagreements, the worker or employer can report to the Ministry of Emiratisation who try to resolve the dispute within two weeks. The matter is referred to a court if no agreement is reached. Cases filed by domestic workers are free and are to take a short period.
The Legal Prohibitions
Apart from the rights of workers, there are things that are restricted. For example, an employer should not have a worker who is below eighteen years. Employing underage workers is a serious offense in the UAE and has great consequences. This is because children are likely to endure exploitative and abusive conditions that adults would not put up with. They are also less able to negotiate the terms of working.
Employers should not assign tasks that were not included in the contract. In this case, the worker may choose to terminate the contract.
The worker should not be exposed to harmful conditions he/she must be protected from any harm such as physical abuse, threats, and sexual harassment.
Other Rules and Regulations
The domestic workers can be employed for a period of six months under probation where the employer may decide to terminate the contract. In case this happens, the recruitment agency will bare all the costs of sending the worker home.
In case the employer deducts any debt from the worker’s pay, it should not exceed more than one-quarter of their salary. In case the worker leaves without a valid reason, the employer should report to the Ministry of Emiratisation within five days.
These laws will serve as a guide to workers, employers, and recruiting agencies especially when it comes to respecting the rights of domestic workers. If these laws are followed, domestic workers will be treated with dignity.
Are you a domestic worker? Are you fully aware of all your rights?
Disclosure: This is a guest post and Emirates Diary can not verify the correctness of information provided. Please consult a qualified lawyer for all your legal queries.