x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Is minimum wage for maids 'taking advantage of UAE nationals', Minister to be asked

Federal National Council member says that the UAE should set pay for maids, not their home countries, calling that 'inappropriate interference'.

ABU DHABI // Emiratis should not be forced to pay minimum wages set by maids' home countries, an FNC member will argue this week.

The UAE sets no minimum wage for maids but many countries do, and refuse to allow their citizens to be hired for less.

More than 100 UAE recruitment agencies signed an agreement with the Philippine Association of Manpower Agencies in November, agreeing to a minimum wage for domestic staff at US$400 (Dh1,469) a month. India has set a Dh1,100 monthly minimum wage for domestic staff in the UAE, Indonesia Dh800, Sri Lanka Dh825, and Bangladesh Dh750. Nepal requires at least Dh900 and has banned women under 30 from working in the Arabian Gulf.

At tomorrow's FNC session, Hamad Al Rahoomi (Dubai), will ask Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the foreign minister, if it is legal for embassies to proactively ensure these minimums are upheld.

"Some embassies directly contact private companies and give them orders," Mr Al Rahoomi said. "What we know is there should be agreements and rules set through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs."

Mr Al Rahoomi said rules about minimum wages should come from the ministry, not embassies.

"This is inappropriate interference," he said. "I believe other GCC countries don't accept this."

He has received an increasing number of complaints from Emirati families about this issue, and said they could not understand why they should pay maids more to do the same job as before.

"Why should they get a 100 per cent raise when they're not doing any more work?" he asked. "A lot of Emiratis came and complained about this."

Mr Al Rahoomi said that in many cases, both the maid and the family were happy with the previous salary, which was usually between Dh700 and Dh900 a month.

"This is just their salary that they get in full every month, everything else is paid for - food, clothes, health, accommodation, travel, even extra luggage to send home," he said. "This has been the situation for years. So we are surprised. If the two parties are happy, why change it?"

"The contract should not come from the embassy but through [official channels in the UAE]," Mr Al Rahoomi said. "Employees' rights are being protected but not employers'."

The situation means many now prefer maids from countries that do not impose such requirements.

"This is taking advantage of UAE nationals," he said. "Some have started to draw up side contracts with maids to avoid minimum wages.

"This could be problematic in the future."

osalem@thenational.ae