Looking to hire a full-time maid for help at home? Make sure you’re familiar with the new standard contract brought into effect since June by the UAE Ministry of Interior federally, across all the Emirates.

Unlike other types of workers, domestic staff are not covered by laws enforced by the Ministry of Labour but rather, by the Ministry of Interior.

New contracts

Every family seeking to employ a live-in domestic worker must draw up an employment contract and have it attested by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs.

The contract will need to follow the new standard template, which is available directly from the Ministry of Interior or, if you are using an agency, through them. Your maid’s embassy can help with guidance too.

The Ministry of Interior says the standardized contract was drafted to simplify legal procedures and provide protection for both employer and employee. [Related: The cost of hiring a maid in the UAE | Why it’s wise to insure your maid]

Working hours and holidays

Like any other employment contract, the nature of work, wages, work and holiday time, air tickets provision, fair treatment, health care, clauses in the case of death and resolution of disputes between the employee and the employer are set out in the new standard contract.

Some of the key sections are:

  • Working hours: Limited to eight hours a day.
  • Working week: The new contract guarantees one day off per week to housemaids.
  • Holidays: Domestic workers must be given 14 days paid leave, with employers providing the annual ticket home.
  • Notice period: A notice period of one month from either party has to be given to end the contract.
  • Repatriation: The employing family will be required to pay for the maid’s repatriation, unless she takes another job and has her visa sponsorship transferred within 30 days of the original visa being canceled. If it is the maid who wants to terminate her contract, then she has to sponsor the repatriation herself, or get her agency to.
  • Health insurance: By 2016, all new visa applications or visa renewals for domestic helpers will require health insurance under the law. [Compare UAE health insurance plans]
  • Minimum wages: As set by the relevant embassy for the domestic worker’s own home country.

Minimum wages (set by national embassies)

Nationality AED/mth
Bangladeshi 750
Indonesian 800
Filipina 1,468
Indian 1,100
Sri Lankan 825

Visa process

The visa process remains the same.

  • The maid has to be sponsored by the head of the household.
  • The employer must arrange her Emirates ID and labour card, which she must keep with her at all times.
  • If you’re hiring a maid who is currently working with a different family, ensure she gets her visa cancelation papers from them.
  • You must renew your domestic helper’s visa before, not after, it expires.

Hiring costs

  • AED 6,000: Minimum salary required to sponsor a maid
  • AED 5,000: Annual housemaid sponsorship fee
  • AED 2,000: Deposit for visa application (refunded when visa is canceled and maid leaves country)
  • AED 150/ 200: Fee for Emiratis/ expats for two-year/ one-year visa for a maid
  • AED 350: Fees for medical and fitness tests
  • AED 5,000 – 16,000: Agency fees for a successful placement
  • AED 700+: Annual health insurance
  • AED 50,000 – 100,000: Fine for hiring a maid illegally – plus possibly jail time and/ or deportation

Bans on new domestic workers

While this new policy brings in a systematic process within the UAE, the Philippines, one of the main countries deploying maids in the UAE, has not agreed to these terms and conditions.

Differing labor policies have been cited as the prime reason. Filipino laws require verification of overseas contracts of their workers but, since the Ministry of Interior’s new policy overrides this verification, the emigration of any new Filipino maids to UAE has been halted by the Philippines.

Although this does not affect domestic workers who are already in the UAE and sponsored by residents, it adds to the list of countries which are stopping their nation’s maids from coming here.

Ethiopia put its ban in place in 2012 and Indonesia in 2013. Now, with the Philippines’ move making the pool of domestic workers ever smaller, a hike in wages is highly likely.