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  • Writer's pictureAkram Cheik - Lawyer

New law on domestic workers in Dubai

The United Arab Emirates has amended the Domestic Workers Act and published a new law which will come into force on December 15, 2022. A domestic worker is a person who performs household or personal care tasks for a family or individual in compensation exchange. Duties may include cooking, cleaning, childcare, gardening chores, sewing, etc. Domestic workers are subject to specific laws and regulations regarding wages, holidays, deductions and working conditions.


The new law also aims to maintain a safe and healthy working environment for domestic workers, in accordance with local laws and international agreements. The provisions of this law apply to the recruitment and employment of domestic workers belonging to professions described in the implementing regulations of the law.


The Minister may also modify the occupations listed to take account of market demand for domestic workers. If a domestic worker travels abroad with their employer or family members, all parties to the employment contract are bound by the terms of that contract, unless the laws of the foreign country of destination provide otherwise.


I – the rules relating to the new law


A- The new contractual terms


The text describes the regulations relating to the hiring and recruitment of domestic workers in the United Arab Emirates. The rules for hiring and employing domestic workers in the UAE must be strictly followed. Domestic workers cannot be recruited or temporarily employed without the authorization of the ministry, which must ensure that the provisions of the implementing regulations of the decree-law are respected as well as the decisions of the ministry. Any recruitment or hiring of domestic workers must comply with the requirements, regulations and procedures set out in the Decree Law, its implementing regulations and the decisions of the Ministry, as well as any other relevant legislation in force in the UAE, ensuring that the licenses required for each profession are respected. In addition, it is prohibited to recruit or hire domestic workers under the age of 18.


Thus, new principles must be respected by recruitment agencies, which must provide information on the work required and prove the aptitude of the domestic worker before recruiting him. It is prohibited to ask for or accept a commission for the employment of a domestic worker or to charge him for expenses. Medical examinations must be carried out before the arrival of the worker. Agencies should provide education on local customs and suitable temporary accommodation. The treatment of the domestic worker must be respectful and courteous, without violence.



B -Protection of employees



Employers and recruiters of domestic workers are required to comply with certain obligations to guarantee the rights of these workers. It is prohibited to discriminate on the basis of criteria such as race, color, sex, religious beliefs, nationality, ethnic origin or disability. It is also forbidden to harass domestic workers, either verbally or physically. Forced labor and any practice that constitutes human trafficking are also prohibited under local laws and agreements.


The Ministry prohibits the employment of domestic workers for any task that is not authorized by the decree-law in force. The Minister issues an order regulating recruitment agencies to define the conditions required to recruit and employ domestic workers, as well as the rules, procedures and forms to be followed.


The domestic worker is entitled to an annual leave of at least 30 paid days and 2 days off per month for a period of service of less than one year. The employer can determine the date of departure on leave and must pay the salary for the days worked. There is a ban on working during annual leave more than once every two years. Statutory public holidays are included in annual leave. The employer must pay the return costs once every two years or upon termination of the contract. The worker is entitled to 30 days of paid sick leave for each year of service. The first 15 days are paid in full and the following 15 days at half pay. If the worker's behavior contributed to the illness, no payment is made.



II - The obligations of the parties



A - Obligations of the Employer


Employers' obligations to their domestic workers include the preparation of suitable accommodation, the provision of equipment necessary to perform the tasks, the provision of meals and clothing for full-time employees (unless otherwise agreed), timely payment of remuneration in accordance with the employment contract, medical expenses, respect, dignity and safety of the domestic worker. Employers cannot employ the domestic worker for another person without permission, and must provide compensation for accidents at work and occupational diseases. Employers cannot charge domestic workers additional fees, and must respect the decisions taken by the ministry in case of violation of the legislation. The employer is also responsible for the repatriation of the domestic worker to his country of origin


Domestic workers must receive their monthly salary in UAE dirhams, no later than 10 days after the due date. The ministry can determine the most appropriate method to ensure that salaries are paid on time. Domestic workers are entitled to their wages upon arrival in the state or after a change in status, and payment must be confirmed by a written receipt or other means determined by the department.


B - Obligations of the domestic worker


The obligations of the domestic worker include performing their duties under the supervision of the employer, respecting the provisions of the employment contract and the law, as well as maintaining a high standard of care. The domestic worker must also respect the customs and traditions of society, follow the instructions of the employer, but not if they violate the employment contract, law or public order. He is responsible for the care and maintenance of the objects at his disposal, for the protection of the privacy of the workplace and for the confidentiality of the information obtained during his employment. Tools and work objects must remain in the workplace and may only be removed with the permission of the employer. The domestic worker must also provide the necessary aid and assistance in the event of disaster or danger and comply with the obligations defined by the decree-law, its implementing regulations and the decisions of the ministry.


In addition, it is permitted to make deductions from the domestic worker's salary, provided that they do not exceed a quarter of the salary, to reimburse legally payable debts. If the domestic worker causes the loss, damage or destruction of property belonging to the employer, the employer may deduct from the worker's wages the amount necessary to repair or replace such property, but this deduction may not exceed one quarter of the worker's salary. However, this arrangement must be approved by the worker or the ministry if the worker refuses.


List of trades:

Housemaid

Cook / Chef

Childcare / Nanny

Personal driver

house keeper

Domestic employee / Personal assistant

Gardener

Home nurse / Nursing assistant.


Akram Cheik, Lawyer




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