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Bahrain mulls weekly day off for housemaids

Manama, January 22, 2013

Housemaids working in Bahrain could soon be legally entitled to a weekly day off for the first time, a report said.

The country has backed proposals for a unified GCC employment contract for domestic workers that would also give them the right to keep their passports and ensure they are paid monthly, added the report published in our sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News (GDN).

Cleaners, nannies, cooks, butlers, drivers and gardeners would be included in the new regulations, which will be discussed by GCC Labour Ministers during a meeting in Bahrain later this year.

It was already given initial approval during a meeting of GCC Labour Ministry under-secretaries in Manama last week.

"Under the new unified job contract, domestic workers will have their right for a weekly day off, accommodation and it will address issues faced by both the employer and the employee," said Labour Ministry Under-Secretary Sabah Al Dossary.

"Bahraini families have had several problems right from the start of recruiting housemaids and this unified contract will solve these issues. It is still cheaper to recruit a housemaid here in Bahrain rather than neighbouring Saudi Arabia."

A copy of the draft law obtained by the GDN states domestic workers would have a three-month probationary period during which time they or their sponsor can cancel their contract for specific reasons.

It states their contracts will also be automatically renewed if there are no objections by either party and can only be cancelled at least three days before they are due to expire.

Salaries will have to be transferred to the employee's bank account or the person directly and signed receipts given.

The draft law also seeks to ensure sponsors provide workers with proper accommodation, food, clothes, visa charges and an air ticket.

In addition, it sets out strict rules for housemaids that they cannot work for any other person for money or reveal family secrets of the people they are working for.

Maids would also be liable for any damage they cause in the household and in case they do not receive their weekly day off because of a heavy overload they should be granted two days leave the following week.

During last week's meeting of GCC Labour Ministers, delegates recommended banning entry to other Gulf countries to any domestic worker who committed violations and ran away from their employers.

Bahrain issued a total of 33,409 work visas for housemaids and another 5,150 for male domestic workers last year. A total of 1,674 runaway cases were also recorded. – TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Bahrain | Labour Ministry | Housemaids |

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