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DOHA: The GCC countries are discussing a proposal, sponsored by Saudi Arabia, for having a common job contract for housemaids, with Qatar suggesting that the contract include privileges like end-of-service benefits, in line with international labour laws.
According to Qatar’s Ministry of Labour, a maid’s job contract should not only entitle her to terminal benefits like gratuity if she has spent a year or more working with a household, but also specify working hours and annual leave.
“These are the basic rights of a worker as enshrined in international labour laws,” the labour ministry has said while expressing its opinion on the Saudi proposal to have a job contract for maids that is common to the six GCC states.
Riyadh, it appears, has forwarded a sample contract to the labour ministry here for its comments.
Qatar has also suggested that the current practice of having three parties to a maid’s contract — the maid, her employer and the manpower agency that recruits her — be done away with, and that it should have only two parties — the maid and her employer.
As for wages, it has been suggested that the matter be left to each country to determine based on local conditions.
Meanwhile, local Arabic daily Al Arab reported yesterday that despite the minimum wage for Filipina maids having been raised to QR1,500 recently, the demand for them has been going up.
Manpower agencies here are suffering because despite the growing demand, visas for Filipina maids are not being issued anymore.
Families prefer Filipinas as maids because they are good at childcare, hygienic and speak English. The second preference is for Indonesian maids. “Many families aren’t happy about the decision to ban the recruitment of Filipina maids,” the daily said, citing sources in the recruitment business.
In fact, manpower agencies in the Philippines have stopped recruiting maids for Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, said the daily.
Citing sources in the recruitment business, the daily added that people were not keen to try maids from new markets like Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kenya and Ghana, among other countries.
When contacted for comment, the Philippines embassy here denied that Qatar had stopped issuing visas for Filipina maids, and said they were still processing requests to hire Filipina maids.
Asked if the number of requests to hire Filipina maids had gone down recently, Consul Gilbert Segara said evasively: “We don’t have data”.