x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Employers frustrated with inability to get maids

Bewildered employers of domestic staff spoke of their confusion on Wednesday over a suspension in hiring Filipino maids.

ABU DHABI // Bewildered employers of domestic staff spoke of their confusion on Wednesday over a suspension in hiring Filipino maids.

The Philippines has stopped processing contracts for domestic workers since the UAE changed the rules on contract verification, but no one told prospective employers.

“We received nothing official from the embassies,” said Afrah Ozibi, an Emirati mother of five. “When they had the restrictions on Ethiopian maids, we were told about it by the embassy.

“I only found out through my maid because her contract is ending and she wants to work for another family. She told me that if I cancel her visa and she goes back to the Philippines, her government won’t allow her back and she desperately needs the money.”

A unified contract for domestic staff took effect on June 1, but families say their recruitment problems go much farther back.

Ms Al Ozibi said: “I have been trying to get a Filipina maid for months now and the office has told me that their embassy is not allowing it because they are unhappy with the conditions set by the UAE.

“What am I supposed to do now? The prices for maids from Indonesia have sky-rocketed.”

Shamsa Abdualla, another Emirati mother, said: “I asked the office to send me a maid from the Philippines last month and they sent me one from Nepal because they said they stopped getting maids from the Philippines.

“I’m going crazy. I’ve always had maids from the Philippines. They are smart, hardworking and dependable. I have two houses and a maid from Indonesia and now this one from Nepal. They do not know any English or Arabic.

“Ramadan is coming and my children and grandkids have iftar with me on most days. I don’t know what I’ll do now.”

Husa Alya hired her two Filipina maids through the Philippine embassy.

“My sister’s maid just arrived yesterday,” Ms Alya said. “We didn’t go through a recruitment agency. We went through their embassy and paid a very low fee, Dh500, and picked them up from the embassy.

“I don’t know if this will still be allowed, but I’m holding on to my maids for the time being and, thankfully, they want to remain.”

The Ministry of Labour issued a circular on May 26 instructing recruitment agencies to rely on the new standard contract, removing the need to have the contracts of domestic workers ratified by the embassies of their countries of origin.

The Philippine embassy found that unacceptable and halted all contracts.

salnuwais@thenational.ae