Residents of Dubai who report absconding household helpers to authorities will receive a Dh10,000 refund if their former staff are found to be working illegally elsewhere.
Dubai Prosecution said the financial incentive was in place as part of efforts to combat illegal working practices.
The initiative was highlighted during the launch of the Compensate Me campaign at an online seminar organised by Dubai Prosecution and the emirate’s Community Development Authority.
Officials said the move would afford sponsors the opportunity to recoup some of the costs of hiring maids and other domestic workers who leave their positions without notice.
But residents were warned they themselves could face heavy fines for failing to report such incidents.
“Many sponsors don’t know they can get some of their money back if they report their absconding workers,” said senior prosecutor Faisal Ahli, from Dubai Naturalisation and Residency prosecution.
For the refund to apply, authorities must be notified within 10 days.
Mr Ahli said Emirati sponsors in particular were not aware of the support on offer.
“If they file a report within 10 days from the time the worker has absconded, and the worker was caught illegally employed by a different sponsor, they can get a Dh10,000 refund,” he said.
Sponsors can file their reports with the Naturalisation and Residency department or by calling 800 5111.
The refund will be taken from a Dh50,000 fine imposed on those found to have hired the absconding maid, Mr Ahli said.
But a sponsor who fails to report an employee who has absconded could end up paying a Dh50,000 fine.
“Sponsors who reported their absconding workers were surprised to receive a call from us asking them to come collect a Dh10,000 refund from prosecution,” the senior prosecutor said.
The official urged residents to not rely on recruitment agencies when it comes to reporting absconding workers.
“Some people either neglect or forget to report their runaway maids or depend on the recruitment agency to do so,” he said.
Sponsors should not only report the incident to authorities but also cancel the employee’s visa immediately, he said.
Should the domestic worker return to the recruitment agency and join a different employer, the initial sponsor needs to follow up and ensure the worker’s visa status has been changed.
“If they fail to do so, the initial sponsor will be fined Dh50,000,” Mr Ahli said.
The senior prosecutor recalled a case of an Emirati whose two workers left to take up roles with a different employer but failed to change their visa status.
“He was fined Dh100,000 for not rectifying their status, a mistake that many make,” he said.
In a separate incident, he said, two families were each fined Dh50,000 for hiring the same housemaid.
The first family had returned the maid, who was under their sponsorship, to the recruitment office, which sent her to work in another household.
Neither family ensured the visa status of the worker was changed.
“The maid worked for the other family for two years without her status being rectified, which led to both families being fined Dh50,000 each,” Mr Ahli said.