DUBAI // Sponsors of Nepalese housemaids and nannies in the Emirates may be required to give written financial guarantees, a Nepalese labour official said.
The measure is among the top recommendations drafted by the Nepalese Embassy in Abu Dhabi, after Kathmandu announced last December the reversal of a 10-year ban on citizens seeking employment as domestic workers in the Gulf.
The new policy, like the old one, is intended to protect Nepalese nationals from abuse.
"We have recommended that the sponsor provides a financial guarantee and a written undertaking," said Dipak Adhikari, the deputy chief of mission at the Nepalese Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
"This is to ensure that they pay salaries on time and also allow them to travel to Nepal in case of a death or serious illness in their family."
The embassy has listed a number of recommendations for consideration after Nepal announced its decision to allow female nationals to take up employment as nannies and housemaids in the Gulf.
They include enforcing a minimum wage, stipulating work hours, providing medical insurance, provision of food by the sponsor and making background checks on sponsors. Authorities said the proposal was handed to the government after a study of the criteria laid down by other missions in the Emirates.
"Our utmost priority is the safety and well-being of our female workers. These conditions, if implemented, will not be very difficult to comply with," said Mr Adhikari.
Nepal announced four months ago that it planned to remove travel restrictions on its domestic workers, but hasn't yet lifted the ban.
The embassy has since been flooded with enquiries over recruitment.
Authorities here said they had to wait for the newly formed government to review proposals sent by Nepalese missions in the Gulf and give its stamp of approval, before any new employment contracts could be processed.
"We are still awaiting instructions from Kathmandu. We did not expect it to take so much time. It is because of the formation of a new government back home. We expect things to start moving fairly soon," said the official.
Nepal imposed travel restrictions on domestic workers coming to the Gulf in 2000.
The decision was made following numerous complaints of sexual abuse, harassment, unpaid wages, long working hours, and other problems.
However, recruitment agents have been known to smuggle workers into the Gulf through neighbouring countries.
One of the reasons cited for retracting the ban was that illegal workers are hard to monitor and so can sometimes leave themselves open to abuse.
The embassy official estimated at least 2,000 Nepalese nationals to be working illegally as housemaids and nannies in the UAE.
Members of the Nepalese community in the UAE said that Nepalese authorities have to put enforcement mechanisms in place before starting to process any individual cases.
"Financial and written guarantees are excellent recommendations to ensure sponsors fulfil their obligations," said Loknath Subedi, a Nepalese expatriate in Dubai.
"It is good to legalise recruitment as many workers travel through India and other countries to the Gulf without the government's knowledge. This makes it difficult to monitor their safety," he said.
Suresh Basyal, another Nepalese expatriate, said it was important for workers to be able to contact other Nepalese people, in case they faced problems.
"It is crucial to ensure that housemaids can contact the embassy or the community when they are being ill-treated by sponsors." he said. Mr Basyal said that financial guarantees could be "logistically difficult" to implement.