The GCC has agreed to a unified Gulf contract for domestic helpers, with hours limited and maids allowed to live outside the employer’s home.

The contract –

  • Limits daily shifts to eight hours
  • Limits overtime to two hours
  • Bans employers from keeping employee passports
  • Allows domestic helpers to live outside their employer’s home
  • Allows them to travel at any time.
  • Ensures employers provide an end-of-contract flight home

The single contract will be put into effect after being approved by all six GCC labor ministers.

The terms are very similar to those the UAE put in place federally in June regarding hours, leave, repatriation and insurance. The Philippines subsequently put a stop to new maids going to the UAE as it could no longer verify maid contracts under the new law.

In Saudi Arabia in the same month, employers were warned they could be fined for not paying domestic staff on time.

Indonesia put a deployment ban on maids coming to the UAE, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in October 2013 due to a lack of any memorandum of understanding between the countries to protect maids from abuse. Ethiopia did the same in July 2012.

The new GCC terms were agreed following a meeting by labor undersecretaries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – in Kuwait City.

Bahrain’s Labour Undersecretary Sabah Al Dosari was quoted by Kuwait’s Kuna news agency as saying: “We in the GCC welcome the foreign workers and we do appreciate their contributions to the development of our countries.”