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  • Writer's pictureJenny Hunt

New Rules Protect Domestic Workers In The UAE

17th September 2017, Updated 6th October 2017

New rules regulating the recruitment of domestic workers for the UAE intend to enhance workers’ rights and reduce cases of abuse.

Earlier this year, the UAE government announced that all private recruitment agencies specialised in hiring domestic workers needed to register with Tadbeer, a network of recruitment centres regulated by Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE). The recruitment companies are required to meet Tadbeer’s strict criteria. Those which don’t will be shut down.

Only approved recruiters will be permitted to offer contracts. This is to ensure all parties are aware of their rights, e.g. the job they will be performing, their workplace, the terms of their contract, their payment and their rest days; so that there should be no dispute over pay and conditions.

Previously maids had been overseen by the Ministry of Interior. This meant complaints had to be made directly to police, which could quickly escalate disputes. Now maids are overseen by the MOHRE, like all other employees in the UAE. This means any disputes will be reviewed by the labour court.

Changes to the rights of domestic workers in the UAE

The Federal National Council (FNC) approved changes to the law that set out rights and conditions for domestic workers, earlier this year, including:

  • One day off a week, to be spent however the employee chooses

  • At least 12 hours off duty a day, including eight consecutive hours

  • 30 days paid annual leave

  • The right to retain passports and identity cards.


Domestic workers are entitled to:

  • Payment of wages, as set out in the standard contract, within 10 days from the day they are due

  • Medical insurance provided by the employer

  • 30 days medical leave per year

  • A round trip ticket home every 2 years

  • Decent accommodation

  • Decent meals at the employer’s expense

  • Attire suitable for the job to be carried out, at the employer’s expense


Either the employer or the worker can refer a dispute to Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE). The ministry will attempt to resolve the dispute amicably within a period of two weeks. If it is not resolved within two weeks, then the matter will be referred to a court. Cases filed by workers are exempt from court fees at all stages of litigation and must be heard in a speedy and prompt manner.

What roles are considered as domestic workers?

There are 19 roles which are considered domestic workers:

  1. housemaid

  2. private sailor

  3. watchman and security guard

  4. household shepherd

  5. family chauffeur

  6. parking valet workers

  7. household horse groomer

  8. household falcon care-taker and trainer

  9. domestic labourer

  10. housekeeper

  11. private coach

  12. private teacher

  13. babysitter/nanny

  14. household farmer

  15. gardener

  16. private nurse

  17. private PRO

  18. private agriculture engineer

  19. cook

Filipina maids can again be recruited in the UAE

An agreement has been signed between the Philippines Department of Labour and Employment and the UAE's MOHRE which aims to protect Filipino workers. This means that it will be possible for Philippine domestic workers to be recruited in the UAE again.

For the last three years, the Philippines government has prevented its citizens travelling to the UAE and some other Gulf states for domestic work. This was due to exploitative recruitment companies and cases of abuse.

Moving forward, UAE recruiters will send the employment contract to the employee in the Philippines, guaranteeing their salary and rights. This will be approved by the Philippines government. The contract will be signed by the employer and employee when the latter subsequently arrives in the UAE.

There are approximately one million Filipino expats in the UAE, of whom about 20% are domestic workers.

Written by Jenny Hunt, Founding Partner & CEO

Gateway Group of Companies, Abu Dhabi and Dubai UAE


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