Good news for domestic workers in UAE

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Staff Report

Abu Dhabi: It’s going to be better life for maids in the UAE as the country’s Federal National Council (FNC) has passed a draft law stipulating the essential working conditions for domestic workers.
Under the new guidelines, they will get a regular weekly day off, 30 days of paid annual leave and the right to retain personal documents including passport, ID card and work permit.
The new bill, which requires final approval by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to become law, also provides a daily rest of at least 12 hours — including at least eight consecutive hours.
The new legislation seeks to regulate the domestic worker industry in line with international standards, Saqr Ghobash Saeed Ghobash, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, said in the House.
Azza Sulaiman, Chairwoman of the FNC Human Resources Committee, said the new proposals align the UAE’s laws with the International Labour Organisation’s Convention 189 and Recommendation 201 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers.
According to the draft law, domestic workers must be extended rights to equality and non-discrimination based on race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion or national or social sect.
The rules also extend safeguards to domestic workers against physical and verbal sexual abuse, human trafficking and forced labour in keeping with UAE’s laws and international conventions ratified by the country.
It is estimated that there are around 750,000 domestic workers in the UAE, making up nearly 20 per cent of the expatriate workforce, according to official statistics. Around 65 per cent of them are based in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. They outnumber family members in 22 per cent of Emirati families.
The law promotes decent work conditions for domestic workers, including social protection and access to specialised tribunals at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and courts. It sets 18 years as a minimum age for a domestic worker, which is consistent with the international rules on elimination of child labour.