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The UAE’s policy on domestic helpers

Who are domestic helpers?

The domestic helpers’ law (PDF) applies to the following service work occupations:

  1. housemaid
  2. private sailor
  3. watchman and security guard
  4. household shepherd
  5. family chauffeur
  6. parking valet workers
  7. household horse groomer
  8. household falcon care-taker and trainer
  9. domestic laborer
  10. housekeeper
  11. private coach
  12. private teacher
  13. babysitter/nanny
  14. household farmer
  15. gardener
  16. private nurse
  17. private PRO
  18. private agriculture engineer
  19. cook.

Hiring process

Tadbeer centers whose services are regulated by MoHRE replaced agencies for recruiting domestic helpers. These centers guarantee a visa, orientation, and training to the workers. Tadbeer centers provide customers with four packages to choose from to recruit domestic helpers. The packages are as follows:

  1. Direct sponsorship: In this package, Tadbeer centers recruit domestic helpers from outside the UAE and guarantee their performance and loyalty for 180 days, while their visa will be under the direct sponsorship of the employing family.
  2. Direct sponsorship after 6 months: This package allows families to hire a worker temporarily for six months after which, the helper’s visa can be transferred under the family sponsorship on the agreement of both parties.
  3. Tadbeer sponsorship: The third package provides the option of hiring workers under the sponsorship of the Tadbeer center.
  4. Time-based packages: This package provides on-demand services that allow families to hire a helper under the sponsorship of Tadbeer centers to provide flexible services according to the requirements of the customers.

Areas of the domestic labor law

The UAE Domestic Labour Law regulates four key areas in the protection of domestic workers:

  • contracts
  • rights and privileges
  • prohibitions
  • recruitment agencies. 

Regulation of domestic helpers contracts

The recruitment agency must present a copy of the job offer to the worker before the worker departs from his country of origin. A standard contract accredited by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) will govern the terms and conditions of the employment.

Either employer or domestic worker may terminate the contract if the other party fails to meet his obligations. The employer or worker may terminate the contract even if the other party has met his obligations. This is called a ‘no-fault’ termination and it is subject to compensation as outlined in the Domestic Labour Law. 

Entitlements of the domestic workers

As per the Domestic Labor Law, domestic workers are entitled to:

  1. payment of wages, as set out in the standard contract, within 10 days from the day they are due
  2. 1 day of paid rest per week
  3. 12 hours of rest per day, including 8 hours consecutive rest 
  4. 30 days paid vacation per year
  5. medical insurance provided by the employer  
  6. 30 days medical leave per year 
  7. a round trip ticket home every 2 years 
  8. a decent accommodation 
  9. decent meals at the employer’s expense 
  10. attire suitable for the job to be carried out, at the employer’s expense
  11. possession of their personal identification papers such as passports, IDs, etc. 
  12. either the employer or the worker can refer a dispute to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. The ministry will attempt to resolve the dispute amicably within a period of two weeks. If it is not resolved within two weeks, then the matter will be referred to a court.
  13. cases filed by workers are exempt from court fees at all stages of litigation and must be heard speedily and promptly.

Sponsorship by residents

The Executive Regulation of Federal law No. 10 of 2017 on Domestic Workers provides that expatriate residents cannot hire a domestic helper unless on a temporary basis and not being under his/her sponsorship under provisions set by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. The following categories exempted from the above regulation:

  • individuals and families who have a monthly income of 25,000 AED from known legal sources
  • persons permitted to sponsor domestic helpers under decisions of the UAE Cabinet
  • patients with accredited medical coverage, provided that their family members have a monthly income of over 15,000 AED
  • holders of senior designations such as consultants of different specialties, judges, and legal counselors
  • any other cases defined by the competent minister according to the labor regulations. Related links
  • MOHRE announces adoption of new residency standards related to support service workers – WAM

Legal prohibitions

The draft Domestic Labor Law prohibits the following:

  • the employment of anyone under the age of 18
  • discrimination based on race, color, gender, religion, and  political opinion
  • sexual harassment, whether verbal or physical
  • forced labor or trafficking by national law and ratified international conventions
  • exposure to physical harm
  • assignment of tasks that are not covered under the contract. 

Regulation of recruitment agencies

Only UAE-registered natural or legal persons with good standing may recruit domestic workers into the UAE. An agency may not, on its own or through a third party, solicit or accept from any worker, whether before or after employment, any form of commission in exchange for employment. 

In the event of early termination, the agency must repatriate the worker at its expense and either offer the employer an acceptable substitute worker or return to the employer the fee they had paid.

The agency must at all times treat the worker decently and refrain from exposing him/her to any form of violence. 

For more information, read:

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