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L.Srikumar Pai
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Rules for hiring Indian housemaids in Oman

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 Sangeetha Sridhar, Dr.Rajan Philips, Hasan Kamoonpuri
Newspapers: Times of Oman, Oman Observer, Oman Tribune, The Week


By REJIMON K.: MUSCAT: The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has introduced certain changes to the service agreements for hiring Indian housemaids.

According to the new regulations, it has been made mandatory for the employers to submit a monthly salary certificate of RO1,000, and they would also be required to provide a bank guarantee of RO1,100 while recruiting an Indian housemaid.

“Employers who draw a monthly salary less than RO1,000 will not be able to hire a housemaid. The security guarantee will be used for the repatriation of the housemaid in case the employer fails to honour the agreement,” Prasad M. K., official lawyer of the Indian Embassy told Times of Oman.

The combined salary of husband and wife will be considered for the minimum RO1,000 wage, and in normal cases, the bank guarantee amount is reimbursable to the employer.

The Indian embassy has already intimated the Sultanate’s Ministry of Manpower about the changes in housemaid service contract which will come into effect from June 20.

“In case a sponsor agrees to release the housemaid to another sponsor, a new agreement will have to be signed by the new sponsor. At the same time, the existing employers will not be made to register and pay the bank guarantee.

“In addition to this, a family with more than six members will have to recruit more than one housemaid. As per the new rule, the age of the maid must be between 30 and 50,” Prasad added.

The changes to the rules were discussed by representatives of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and the Sultanate’s Ministry of Manpower during a Joint Working Group meeting under the MoU on manpower signed between the two countries in May this year.

Welcoming the move, Anil Wadhwa, the Indian ambassador to Oman, told Times of Oman that the changes would be a blessing for the housemaids who come to the Sultanate.

“The changes come as part of the policies initiated by the Indian government to ensure the safety of the citizens who come to Gulf countries as housemaids. The latest amendments in the service agreements will protect them from abuse.

“Both the employer and the employee will benefit from the changes, which will bring forth a standardised structure for hiring housemaids,” Wadhwa said.

Specific changes
According to the new rules, salary has to be paid to the housemaid through banking channels only. Where banking channels are not available, a bilingual-salary slip signed by both the sponsor and the housemaid will be a must.

Also, when repatriating a housemaid, the air-ticket is to be booked by a direct flight to India.

While similar changes have been introduced in other parts of the region, there are some changes that are specific to the Sultanate.

“The employment agreement, which will be sent to the jobseekers in India, will include a 24-hour hotline and a GSM number of the Indian embassy. This facility is being initiated for the first time. It will be a big help to the employees coming here.
“In most of the cases, we have found that they don’t know how to get in touch with the embassy and are stranded on the streets,” the lawyer said.

In addition to this, the employer has to present the employee in front of the embassy officials after the employee gets a labour card, and a cellphone also has to be provided to the employee.

Lauding the Indian government’s move to protect the housemaids, Shaji Sebastin, a social worker in Muscat, said, “Even though the cases of abuse of maids are minimum, when we consider the total number of housemaids working in the Sultanate, these changes will ensure that those who are abused by the employers are not left alone without any help. Now, it will not be easy to exploit an Indian housemaid,” Shaji added.

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