‘Can I reduce my housemaid’s salary?’

Under the law, employers cannot change a salary or any other terms of the contract without the agreement of all parties


DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Ð June 30: House maid with one of the family at Dubai Mall in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National) *** Local Caption ***  PS01- MAID.jpg
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Question: My maid has been with us for five years. Her salary has not changed but we sometimes give her a small annual bonus of a few hundred dirhams.

She works from 7am to 7pm with one day off and does not live in our home.

We do not live near any bus stops, so need to drive her to a bus stop so she can go home each night. This is not convenient as I now have a toddler.

I think we are overpaying her but if we reduce her salary, she might leave. Many maids do not want to work in this area as there is no public transport.

Can I make changes to her work situation and salary? Can I tell her she has to live in? LW, Abu Dhabi

Answer: The employment of domestic staff, including maids, nannies and drivers, is covered by Federal Decree Law no 9 of 22, Concerning Domestic Workers.

A contract of employment is in place that states the terms of employment as agreed by all parties.

New UAE labour laws come into effect

New UAE labour laws come into effect

According to Article 7, clause 2, this includes: “[The] date of joining, nature and place of work, duration of the contract, total amount of remuneration, payment method, authorised leave, probation period, rest periods.”

All domestic worker contracts are for a period of two years and the employer cannot decrease the salary paid or change any other agreed terms without the agreement of all parties and new paperwork being drawn up.

The contract should also specify that this is a live-out position, so agreement must be from both parties if that is to be changed. A domestic worker cannot be forced to change their living arrangements.

The employer can ask for a change of terms at contract renewal, but the employee does not have to accept this and can end the employment at the renewal date.

This employee has not received a salary increase for five years, so given the rates of inflation, her salary has already decreased in real terms.

The law states that domestic workers must have at least one full day of rest a week and it also states the maximum working hours.

This is covered in Article 9.2: “Domestic workers are entitled to rest of at least 12 hours per day, of which at least eight hours are consecutive working hours, in accordance with the executive decisions issued by the Ministry.”

In this situation, LW said the employee works for 12 hours each day, but she must have a rest period during this time.

Q: I recently saw a job advert that asked for “Caucasian women”, stating they had to be attractive, send in their measurements and would be paid cash in hand.

Is this permitted in the UAE? I thought there were laws about specifying race or skin colour. When I questioned the advert, the person was extremely insulting. AW, Dubai

A: The UAE has several laws to prevent discrimination, both in the workplace and generally. They apply to anyone who advertises for jobs in the UAE.

Federal law 33 of 2021, known as the new UAE labour law, covers the topic in Article 4 – Equality and Non-discrimination.

It states: “Any discrimination on the basis of race, colour, sex, religion, national or social origin or disability, which would have the effect of nullifying or impairing equality of opportunity, or prejudicing equal treatment in the employment, the maintenance of a job and the enjoyment of its benefits, is prohibited.”

This means that it is not permitted to specify a nationality or a skin colour in an advertisement.

There have been several government announcements over the years, stating that “the law aims to fight discrimination against individuals or groups based on religion, caste, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin”.

This is backed by Federal Decree Law No 2 of 2015 on Combating Discrimination and Hatred.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation requests that illegal job advertisements be reported to them. This can be by telephone or WhatsApp on 600 590 000 or several other ways, as shown on their website.

Companies that break the law in this way can be prosecuted and fined.

Additionally, in order to carry out any work for a company, even if a person has their own visa and it is temporary, a work permit should be provided and the employment must be officially documented.

Insulting people or making false claims on social media is also a criminal offence in the UAE. This was covered in one of my previous columns.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with more than 30 years’ experience. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.comor at www.financialuae.com

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only

Updated: February 25, 2024, 10:08 AM