Protecting rights of domestic workers is a shared concern
The introduction of the standard work contract for UAE domestic staff marked an appropriate step towards protecting the rights of both workers and their employers. However, it doesn’t set a minimum monthly wage, leaving it to both parties to agree on this matter, rather than having the contract signed off by the embassy of the domestic worker.
This has not met with universal approval. As The National reported yesterday, the Philippines government has warned that it will not process contracts of Filipinos wishing to become household workers in the UAE if the Ministry of Labour continued to allow recruitment agencies to proceed without the embassy’s approval.
Rosalinda Baldoz, the Philippine labour secretary, told the paper that she is concerned that household workers travelling to the UAE are at risk of human trafficking in the absence of official verification of documents.
While these concerns are legitimate, they overlook the fact that the UAE continues to work to protect domestic workers from abuse. The standard contract affords legal protection to all domestic staff in the event of a dispute arising.
Insisting on the approval of contracts is only likely to hurt those who the Philippines government are seeking to protect, namely those wanting to move to this country to work, earn money and remit their earnings back home. Separately, Ethiopian officials have also demanded a minimum wage of Dh1,200 for its citizens, which led to the suspension of issuing work visas for Ethiopian domestic staff. This does not help anyone.
The UAE welcomes any effort from foreign embassies to protect their citizens who are employed in the country. Indeed, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Foreign Minister, said there should be no “constraints for any country on protecting their nationals here”, during a debate with the FNC last year.
Of course, that statement works hand in hand with the terms, conditions and labour rights enshrined in the standard contract, which was written to protect migrant workers. It is up to the government of the maid’s home country to trust in that legislation and allow its citizens the freedom and the choice to take up employment overseas.