Indonesia to lift the ban on hiring maids following FNC law
Dubai - The Indonesian Ministry of Labour imposed on May 2015 a ban on sending new domestic workers to all countries in the Middle East
Indonesia will soon lift the ban on the deployment of new household service workers to the UAE after the draft law on the rights of domestic workers, approved during the 16th legislative session of the Federal National Council, is implemented.
This was confirmed to Khaleej Times by Indonesian consul-general Consul General Arzaf Firman. He said: "We praise the steps taken by the UAE in protecting all domestic workers. It will secure the daily lives of domestic workers by protecting them from abuse and any acts of violence."
"There are procedures to follow," Firman continued. "First, we will wait for implementation and enforcement of the law. Then I will report to Jakarta and the Indonesian government will evaluate and resume deploying new domestic workers to the UAE."
The Indonesian Ministry of Labour imposed on May 2015 a ban on sending new domestic workers to all countries in the Middle East, including the UAE, citing "the lack of legal framework that could provide protection to Indonesian maids."
With passing of the draft law on the rights of domestic workers, the Indonesian top diplomat hailed it as a "very positive move by the UAE government." He added that "the implementation and enforcement of the law will give guarantee to all stakeholders that the UAE will continuously protect the wellbeing of domestic workers."
The ban imposed by Indonesia was only for new domestic workers; those who have been working in the country prior to the ban were still able to work legally. However, the deployment ban has raised the cost of hiring an Indonesian maid dramatically from Dh8,000 to Dh16,000.
"Now there will be a better mechanism to address the problems of domestic workers and at the same time this will also professionalise the sector," Firman said. He noted that there are around 50,000 Indonesians who work as domestic workers in Dubai and the northern emirates that will greatly benefit from the new law. "This will also benefit all domestic workers from India, Bangladesh, Philippines and other domestic worker-sending countries," he added.
Philippine consul-general Paul Raymund Cortes also welcomed the passing of the draft law that will not just benefit the maids but also the house cooks, security guards, drivers, gardeners, and other household workers. "The new law that provides more benefits to our household service workers is always welcome," he said. "When laws are passed that allow people more liberties within the confines of their terms of employment, we contextualise our labor rules and regulations within the ambit of humanity and that is most certainly always a good thing," he added.
Among the salient features of the new law are providing a weekly day off; giving 30 days of annual paid leave; ensuring the right to retain personal documents including passport, ID card and work permit; providing daily rest of at least 12 hours, including eight hours of continuous break; and no discrimination on the basis race, colour, sex or religion.
Cortes is optimistic that the law will allow household service workers (HSWs) "to enjoy Dubai and the rest of the country all the more by providing them with opportunities to partake of the superb infrastructure Dubai has built for the rest of the world to see."
"Guaranteed rest will also gain productivity for them (HSWs) and for the families that employ them. A happy and content labour is surely a productive one," the Filipino consul-general underlined.
Cortes, however, noted that the Consulate does not have an estimated number of Filipino HSWs in Dubai and the northern emirates. "The terms of employment for HSWs are now under the Ministry of Labour. It used to be under the Immigration office but the UAE transferred it to Labour a few months ago," he said.
Cortes also did not provide details when the suspension on hiring domestic workers from Philippines will be lifted. He said this will be answered by the Philippine Labour Ministry in consultation with its Foreign Affairs office.
The Philippine government has stopped deploying maids to the UAE back in 2014 after the UAE Ministry of Interior introduced a unified contract for domestic workers that led to the suspension of Philippine consular office's role in verifying and attesting the contracts of maids. Aside from provision in Philippine domestic laws that stipulate the mandatory attestation of contracts of migrant workers as a security measure, the Philippine government also require an assurance that HSWs will receive a minimum monthly salary of $400 (Dh1,460).
Meanwhile, Nancy Alabata, president of Dubai Overseas Filipino Workers and founder of a group called Jebel Ali Village Nannies, said in an earlier interview that the ban should be lifted and a strict monitoring of domestic workers' condition should be enforced instead.