February 16, 2016      10:40

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New rules for expats hiring Filipina domestic helpers


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Kuwait: The Philippine Embassy has set a requirement preventing maid recruitment agencies from allowing expatriates to hire Filipina domestic help. The reason given by the embassy is that some expats were taking the Filipinas to work outside of Kuwait without informing the embassy.

Abdrahim, who runs a maid agency in Hawally, told Kuwait Times that the agency faced problems when helpers they had recruited ended up in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. “This order [from the Embassy] was applied one month ago in some agencies,” he explained. “So we asked anyone who needs Filipina maids to get the approval from the embassy.”

However, not all agencies have applied the rule and when Kuwait Times asked, several noted that they would still provide Filipina domestic helpers to expatriate residents.

One employer argued that nonworking mothers are not required to hire maids, and went as far as suggesting that they should be stopped from hiring helpers because some of them force maids to work for others in exchange of money. “We face some complaints about forcing the maids to work for others by the hour,” said the recruiter who wished to be identified only by her first name Sharifa. “If the mother is not working then she does not need a helper.” Conditions for employment, however, seem to vary from agency to agency.

No policy

Cesar Chavez, Philippine Labor Attaché to Kuwait Attorney, told Kuwait Times that there is no such policy but the embassy does require non-Kuwaiti families to get an additional approval with no extra fees to give the embassy the information about the number of family’s members and so on. Chavez pointed out that if any family wants to travel outside Kuwait for vacation they must update their contact information with the embassy so that it can maintain accurate information regarding the helper’s whereabouts.

Kuwait has faced a slew of challenges in recent years regarding the recruitment, hiring and treatment of domestic helpers, most of whom come from impoverished countries in Asia. Last year, the parliament adopted its first ever domestic workers labor law, regulating the thriving industry. There are an estimated 660,000 domestic helpers in Kuwait and the vast majority are brought by recruitment agencies which charge fees of between KD 400 to KD 1,500 to hire a domestic worker for up to two years. Charges are typically determined by the nationality of the domestic worker with agencies charging the highest fees for Filipino domestic workers.

Under the new labor law, domestic workers are granted the right to a weekly day off, 30 days of annual paid leave, a 12-hour working day with rest, and an end-of-service benefit of one month a year at the end of the contract, among other rights. Kuwait is the first in the Arab Gulf states to pass such a law but mechanisms for implementation remain to be developed.

By Faten Omar

Source: Kuwait Times [Link]


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