Getting some help around the house can be a blessing, especially for working individuals or parents. However, it’s a challenge to find a maid who will easily fit into your household, so selecting the right one needs careful attention, particularly understanding the legalities and costs of hiring and sponsoring your own maid, hiring through an agency, or using a cleaning company.
***Update on maid bans: Ethiopia, Indonesia and the Philippines***
Indonesia put a deployment ban on maids coming to the UAE, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in October 2013 due to a lack of memorandum of understanding between the countries to protect maids from abuse. Ethiopia had previously done the same in July 2012.
The Philippines put a stop to new domestic workers going to the UAE in June 2014 after the UAE Ministry of the Interior introduced a new contract for housemaids and stopped embassies of the maids’ home countries from verifying those contracts.
None of these impact domestic workers already employed in the UAE; however, it does mean competition is getting fiercer and wages are rising.
Full-time maid – agency
Various agencies supply maids who they directly employ from their home country. You can go through their CVs, or videos, provided by the agencies and then shortlist for phone interviews. After making the final decision, the agency will begin the immigration paperwork needed to bring your maid into the UAE.
Currently, domestic helpers do not come under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Labour. They are under the Ministry of Interior’s Immigration Office, and are not covered by the UAE’s labour laws.
Usually, you sign a two-year contract and pay a minimum salary in accordance with the maid’s own country’s embassy wage requirements.
Minimum wage (set by national embassies)
Keep in mind, some agencies may charge more for additional assistance, such as choosing between experienced maids and inexperienced maids or carrying out medical tests.
- Pros: Agencies are a reliable source and you have a large pool of maids to select from and agencies will help you with paperwork. Some agencies have trial periods up to three months, during which they let you replace maids if you are unhappy with their service.
- Cons: The initial cost of hiring a maid is high, as you will have to pay an agency fee, visa, salary, living expenses and other costs. Agency fees range from AED 6,000 to 10,000. An employment visa can cost approximately AED 5,000, with a deposit of AED 3,000, and has to be renewed yearly. Depending on your contract, you might pay for other costs such as airplane tickets, health insurance and Emirates ID, on top of your maid’s monthly salary and living expenses. It also takes an average of 45 days for your maid to arrive in the UAE.
Full-time maid – already in the UAE, with a different family
Besides agencies, you can directly hire a maid under your sponsorship. Look for options through advertisements, online websites such as Dubizzle or word of mouth. It’s always wise to request references of previous families that they have worked for.
However, remember that, if a family is leaving the country, it is in their interest that their maid gets a job – otherwise they will have to pay for her ticket back home before getting their deposit back. So watch out for those giving good references out just to avoid the ticket fare.
You will have to apply and pay for her employment visa, which costs approximately AED 5,000 every year, and a deposit of AED 3,000. There will be separate charges for registration, medical tests and Emirates ID.
- Pros: You can conduct face-to-face interviews and test their skills before hiring them. If you are looking for a nanny, you can observe her with your kids and see if your child is comfortable. It is always better to meet someone who is going to be living at your house and spending a lot of time with your kids.
- Cons: It’s time-consuming to look for the perfect maid all by yourself. There is a level of risk attached as maids can abscond once you have paid for their visa. You don’t have the safety net of a trial period, as you would with an agency. Also, previous referees may lie to you as they don’t want to pay visa cancellation fees and air fare home.
Part-time maid – cleaning companies
Hiring maids through cleaning companies is fairly simple. The UAE has many options – e.g. Maid Shop, Eco Maid and Helping Hand. You can book them for particular time slots and their prices range from AED 30 – 45 an hour. Cleaning companies can also provide cleaning materials and equipment for extra fees.
- Pros: You won’t have to pay for visa or living expenses, and can still enjoy the privacy of your own home. For example, if you hire a maid for four hours, three times a week, it will cost an average of AED 1,700 per month – less than a live-in maid. Besides, part-time helpers can provide other services such as babysitting, pet care, cooking, ironing and party care.
- Cons: Commonly, time slots are set with maids working for a minimum of four hours. Companies usually don’t work after 7pm in the evening or on Fridays. This means you might have to shift your schedule to accommodate them. There is a risk of maids breaking objects as they are on a tight schedule to finish cleaning. Maids won’t be familiar with your home and you might have to briefly train them every single time, particularly when they are sick or on holiday and someone else is filling in, often without you being given any advance notice of this.
Part-time maid – sponsored by other party
Employing part-time maids who aren’t on your sponsorship can be a little tricky. You can either hire a maid on her husband’s visa or a maid on an agency visa such as Explorer. Generally, both have hourly charges and can cost an average of AED 3,000 a month. However, there is room to negotiate prices and number of hours.
- Pros: Since she is not a stay-in maid, you won’t have to pay for her visa, paperwork, tickets or living expenses. It will be easier to end her employment contract if you are unhappy with her services. There is also the advantage of having a maid who is familiar with your house and its upkeep.
- Cons: It’s time-consuming and difficult to find a maid with the right visa status to work part-time. You risk the maid ending her employment contract without a notice period, meaning you will have to start your search again. It can cost quite a bit in the long run; for example, a maid who works five times a week for five hours can cost you AED 36, 000 per year.
|Full-time maid – agency||Agency fees can range from AED 7,000 to AED 10,000||
|Full-time maid – sponsorship||Employment visa can cost approximately AED 5,000||
|Part-time maid -cleaning companies||An hourly cost, ranging from AED 30 to AED 45 per hour.||
|Part-time maid – other party||An average hourly charge of AED 30 or a monthly salary of AED 3,000||
Ambareen Musa, CEO of Souqalmal.com, says: “Being an expat in the UAE, it would have been impossible to set up Souqalmal.com without home help. My help relieves the stress of house work – but, most importantly, she looks after my child when I am working, allowing me to be much more flexible with my working hours.”
Be aware that employing a domestic worker who doesn’t have the right visa can get you into legal trouble. If she is illegal, doesn’t hold an agency visa, husband visa or is not under your sponsorship, you can be fined between AED 50,000 – 100,000. There is also the possibility of jail time for the employer if a crime or serious injury occurs while she is working on your premises. Therefore, make sure you check all of your maid’s paperwork before appointing them.
The UAE law stipulates health insurance will be required by July 2016 for all employees. Failure to act in accordance can lead to fines of between AED 500, to AED 150,000. Besides health insurance, for the safety of your own household, it’s best to get home insurance which will cover your maid.