Plus questions about travel insurance and using the Emirates ID card as an e-gate card, answered by our consumer advocate.
On Your Side: It is not advisable to hire a maid if she has absconded
My husband and I have recently moved to Dubai and as we have small children, we are thinking of employing a live-in maid to help us out. I have heard conflicting information about the right way to do this as well as plenty of horror stories. I have been approached by a lady who says she left her previous employer because she was unhappy, but have some concerns about employing her as I am not sure about the legal situation and would very much like to know the correct steps we should take as we want everything to be above board. PM, Dubai
There are a number of ways of finding a maid including via a registered agency, using community noticeboards or websites, or by word of mouth.
Naturally a personal recommendation is best and you need to be wary of anyone who has absconded. Many of the companies that provide an hourly maid service in the UAE will also be able to provide a full-time, live-in maid for an agency fee. You would be liable for her airfare and government costs. The typical fee for this service is Dh3,500. The head of the family will be the sponsor and must earn at least Dh6,000 a month. Single men cannot sponsor a maid, and she can only come from certain countries - India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Philippines. (The UAE is no longer issuing visas to Ethiopian maids.)
You start by applying for a residence visa - the employment permit to enter the UAE - and once she is here she must have a medical fitness report. The sponsor must provide a salary certificate in Arabic if he or she is a government employee or a labour contract if working for a private company and a rental contract showing that the accommodation has at least two bedrooms. Paperwork must be submitted to the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs and, if living in Dubai, the Dubai Nationality and Registration Department. An application form (typing cost, Dh110) must be included as well as a refundable deposit of Dh2,000. The medical report, which includes a Hepatitis B vaccination, usually costs Dh340. The residence visa costs Dh5,100 and is valid for a year, with options to renew.
In Dubai, a formal contract must be drawn up for the Nationality and Registration Department and this must state the maid's salary and be signed by both parties. There are country specific regulations regarding age and minimum salary. These vary from Dh750 to Dh1,400 and food and accommodation should be provided as well as allowances for clothing, toiletries et cetera. The total average seems to be about Dh2,000 a month. Full information can be found on the Dubai Government's website www.dubai.ae. It should be noted that employing a maid illegally can result in a fine of up to Dh70,000.
I plan to go on an extended trip and have been looking at taking out a travel insurance policy. I have had some medical problems in the past, nothing too serious, but I would very much like to know how I get information about the amount of time that has to go by until I do not have to declare any previous medical conditions or problems. LP, Abu Dhabi
Generally the time limit is two years, but this is on the basis that you have not had any symptoms of the condition for this period, not only that you have not sought medical advice or received treatment. Most insurers will define pre-existing conditions as any psychiatric or psychological disorder (including anxiety or depression) that has been diagnosed or treated within the past two years and any other medical condition for which you have consulted a hospital specialist or needed in-patient treatment within the past year. This can vary between providers so I would advise to you check the small print for individual companies.
I have recently received my Emirates ID card, but someone has told me that it will also automatically replace my e-gate card [used like a credit card to enter or leave the UAE to save queuing time]. This sounds too good to be true, so can you confirm if this is correct and if there is anything I need to do? BL, Ajman
The Emirates Identity Authority has advised that a valid identity card can also be used as an e-gate card, but that this is not automatic. Anyone aged 18 or over who has a national identity card, whether a citizen or a resident, can apply through a number of service centres. In addition to the card you will need a full passport that is valid for at least six months and a service fee of Dh150 is payable. Further information can be found on the authority's website www.eida.gov.ae.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.