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My neighbour is ill-treating her housemaid. What can I do?

Ashish Mehta/Dubai
Filed on August 17, 2020 | Last updated on August 17, 2020 at 06.12 am
legal view, maid, uae, dubai, law, crime, harassment, abuse, salary

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Know your legal rights in the UAE.

Question: One day, I found my neighbour's housemaid distressed outside a supermarket and, when I asked if she was all right, she broke down in tears. The woman told me she was being screamed at all the time. She claimed that her employer was verbally abusing her and even deducting her salary over the smallest mistakes. She wanted to leave but my neighbour was threatening her with a lifetime ban. What can I do to help her? How can I report this abuse? I do not want the housemaid to face repercussions because of my complaint.


It is the responsibility of employers in the UAE to treat their housemaids in a dignified manner. This is in accordance with Article 15 (5) of the Domestic Workers Law.

Further, an employer may deduct the salary of a housemaid only if she causes material damage to the tools and belongings of the employer and such deductions may be done only with the consent of the housemaid and upon the approval of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE), according to Article 11 (2) of the same law. In the event the housemaid does not agree with the decision, then the dispute may be referred to court.

As a neighbour, you may not be in a position to file a complaint with any of the local authorities, as the alleged harassment and yelling may have occurred in their house and not in a public place. If your neighbour harasses her housemaid in public, then you may be able to file a police complaint spontaneously. This is in accordance with Article 48 of Federal Law No. (35) of 1992 Concerning Criminal Procedures Law.

Abuse is illegal in the UAE. Article 374 of the Federal Law No. (3) of 1987 on the issuance of Penal Code states that: "Punishment by detention for a period not exceeding six months or by a fine not exceeding Dh5,000 shall apply if slander or abuse is transmitted by telephone, or face to face with the victim, and in the presence of a third party.

"Punishment by a fine not exceeding Dh5,000 shall be imposed if slander or abuse occurs face to face with the victim alone, without the presence of a third party.".

Therefore, the victim may file a complaint with the MoHRE and the police on the grounds of harassment and deduction of salary. She may also approach the human rights department of the Community Development Authority in the emirate where she lives and lodge a case against her employer.

Know the law

If a person witnesses harassment in public in the UAE, he/she may be able to file a police complaint spontaneously. 

Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom and India. Full details of his firm on: Readers may e-mail their questions to: or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.


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