Passing the domestic labour law
In September 2017, H. H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the UAE approved Federal Law No. 10 of 2017 on support service workers. The law, also known as Domestic Labour Law offers protection to workers.
Prior to this law, the matters of domestic workers were under the purview of Ministry of Interior. However, now they are under the purview of Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.
Who are domestic workers?
The domestic law applies to the following 19 service work occupations:
- private sailor
- watchman and security guard
- household shepherd
- family chauffeur
- parking valet workers
- household horse groomer
- household falcon care-taker and trainer
- domestic labourer
- private coach
- private teacher
- household farmer
- private nurse
- private PRO
- private agriculture engineer
Areas of the domestic labour law
The 41 article-law establishes the principle of informed consent, ensuring that workers are aware of the terms of the contract, nature of work, the workplace, the remuneration and the period of daily and weekly rest as set out by the executive regulations and before they cross their national borders.
It includes provisions on tariffs, recruitment and employment offices, labour contracts, employer and employee obligations, inspection, penalties, holidays, end of service indemnity, termination of contract and settlement of disputes. The law regulates four key areas in the protection of domestic workers:
- rights and privileges
- recruitment agencies.
Regulation of contracts
The recruitment agency must present a copy of the job offer to the worker prior to the worker’s departure from his country of origin. A standard contract accredited by Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) will govern the terms and conditions of the employment.
Either employer or domestic worker may terminate the contract if the other party fails to meet his obligations. The employer or worker may terminate the contract even if the other party has met his obligations. This is called a ‘no-fault’ termination and it is subject to compensation as outlined in the Domestic Labour Law.
Entitlements of the domestic workers
As per the draft Domestic Labour Law, domestic workers are entitled to:
- payment of wages, as set out in the standard contract, within 10 days from the day they are due
- 1 day of paid rest per week
- 12 hours of rest per day, including 8 hours consecutive rest
- 30 days paid vacation per year
- medical insurance provided by the employer
- 30 days medical leave per year
- a round trip ticket home every 2 years
- a decent accommodation
- decent meals at the employer’s expense
- attire suitable for the job to be carried out, at the employer’s expense
- possession of their personal identification papers such as passports, IDs, etc.
- either the employer or the worker can refer a dispute to Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. The ministry will attempt to resolve the dispute amicably within a period of two weeks. If it is not resolution within two weeks, then the matter will be referred to a court.
- cases filed by workers are exempt from court fees at all stages of litigation and must be heard in a speedy and prompt manner.
The draft Domestic Labour Law prohibits the following:
- the employment of anyone under the age 18
- discrimination on the basis of race, colour, gender, religion and political opinion
- sexual harassment, whether verbal or physical
- forced labour or trafficking in accordance with national law and ratified international conventions
- exposure to physical harm
- assignment of tasks that are not covered under the contract.
Regulation of recruitment agencies
Only UAE-registered natural or legal persons with good standing may recruit domestic workers into the UAE. An agency may not, on its own or through a third party, solicit or accept from any worker, whether prior to or after employment, any form of commission in exchange for employment.
In the event of early termination, the agency must repatriate the worker at its expense and either offer the employer an acceptable substitute worker or return to the employer the fee they had paid.
The agency must at all times treat the worker decently and refrain from exposing him/her to any form of violence.