UAE Closes 250 Private Agencies, Issues New Rules for Hiring Housemaids

The UAE announced that it will shut down all third-party maid for hire agencies starting March to better protect the rights of workers and employers, a Cabinet minister revealed on Tuesday, January 19.

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To date, a total of 250 private recruitment agencies had already been shut down while the remaining 10 offices are expected to be closed entirely in March.

UAE Shuts Down 250 Private Agencies, Announces New Rules for Hiring Housemaids
Credits: Federal National Council

Gov’t Scraps Third-Party Agencies Involved in Hiring Housemaids in UAE

Nasser Al Hamli, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) informed the members of the Federal National Council that citizens and residents will soon need to hire domestic workers only through the Tadbeer, a network of service centers, The National reported.

Tadbeer recruitment centers have been set up by MoHRE in 2018 and there is now a total of 54 centers operating across the emirates.

Al Hamli added that it has been the sole responsibility of Tadbeer offices to hire workers from abroad.

In line with this, the ministry has not renewed the licenses of private companies since 2017 and has fined 99 agencies that continued to operate after their licenses had been suspended.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday (January 20), agencies located in free zones were told that they would not be affected by the new regulation. It is not known, however, how many agencies trade in such zones, nor whether companies would be allowed to relocate in these areas.

And when asked by Hamad Al Rahoomi, an FNC member for Dubai and deputy speaker of the chamber, why private recruitment agencies that brought in workers illegally on tourist visas and sent them to families to work as housemaids were allowed to operate, Mr. Al Hamli pointed out that the “black market” did not protect the rights of the maids as well as their employers.

These businesses do not guarantee the worker will stay with the family, but when you pay just Dh10,000 for two years, this is what you can expect,” Al Rahoomi explained.

Additionally, more workers leave their work before the end of their contract, and the private agencies offered no guarantee that they would even honor the contract.

This guarantee can only be expected from government-run recruitment agencies like the Tadbeer according to Al Hamli.

Services at Tadbeer centers are more expensive because they offer different packages and visa services. Moreover, they offer flexible contracts, free replacements, and does all the paperwork for the clients.

They also set the salary for maids, their work hours and ensures that they are paid on time each month.

Al Hamli pointed out that in this setup, there would be no room for competition since there is no way that Tadbeer centers can compete with private offices on prices.

To achieve this, all “black market” agencies must be shut down so that Tadbeer centers could reduce prices and offer quality service.

Al Rahoomi also urged the ministry to follow the 2017 domestic workers’ law, which stipulated that such offices were to be closed within six months.

Mr. Al Hamli also shared that ministry officials are working together to help Tadbeer bring down costs.

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