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Abu Dhabi: A new standard labour contract to regulate relations between domestic workers and their employers will be introduced shortly, a senior official told Gulf News on Sunday.
“The new unified contract will be made by a joint committee made up of representatives from the ministries of Interior, Labour, Health, and economic departments across the UAE,” Dr Hashim Al Nuaimi, Director of the Consumer Protection Department at the Ministry of Economy, told Gulf News.
Dr Al Nuaimi said the contract will be taken up by the Higher Committee for Consumer Protection, chaired by Sultan Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy. He gave no time-frame as to when this contract will see the light. “The standard contract will take time because many authorities are contributing to it,” Al Nuaimi said, ruling out the issue being taken up by the next meeting of the Higher Consumer Protection Committee, scheduled for March 26.
According to a draft law on domestic workers, passed by the Federal National Council in 2012, the standard contract will be signed by the employer and the employment agency, setting out job description and qualifications of the worker as well as obligations of the employer, specifically the nature of the work and the remuneration.
“The contract will also provide for financial obligations towards the workers travelling to the UAE, fees of the agent and the period required to bring in the employee. If the agent fails to honour these obligations as set out in the contract, the employer shall have the right to refuse offering the job to the worker, and the agent will bear the costs of returning the worker home, without prejudice to the employer’s right to claim compensation for any injuries caused by the agent’s failure to meet the contract’s terms,” states the legislation which requires to be signed into law by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Ali Eisa Al Nuaimi, a member of the FNC, will put a question to the Minister of Economy on Tuesday about the growing fees imposed by placement companies of domestic workers.
Al Nuaimi told Gulf News he would suggest that agreements be signed between the UAE and countries exporting domestic workers, to curb exploitation of recruiting agencies, which charge up to Dh12,000 in fees for employment of a domestic helper..
The contract, which can extend to no more than two years and is renewable for similar periods, shall more particularly specify the date of its conclusion, the date on which work is to begin, type of the work and workplace, duration of the contract, the remuneration and how it is paid as well as any other terms required by the nature of the work.
A domestic worker, the labour law states, may be engaged on probation for six months, during which his or her service may be terminated by the employer with the placement agency bearing the cost of sending the worker home if necessary. The agent has to repay all fees if the labour contract is revoked of the worker’s own will, because of the worker or because agreed terms of the employment contract are not honoured.
To address abusive practices in respect of payment of wages, the law lays down a number of principles with regard to the protection of remuneration. Remuneration, which has to be communicated to the worker and agreed by him or her before travelling to the UAE, has to be paid no later than the 10th of the following month and a receipt is signed upon every payment. No amount of money may be deducted from a worker’s salary or end of service gratuity except for a debt payable in execution of a court ruling or repair of any damage caused by the worker, provided that the deduction shall not exceed a quarter of the worker’s salary. If a dispute occurs, it has to be settled by the special tribunals at the Ministry of Interior or be referred to the court.
Once the labour law is issued, a domestic worker will enjoy a weekly day off with full pay, paid annual leave of 14 days and sick leave of up to 30 days a year.
Source: Samir Salama, Associate Editor, gulfnews.com