Domestic workers in the UAE’s Tadbeer centres can no longer be hired on an hourly or daily basis, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation said on Tuesday.
To reduce the spread of the coronavirus, the government agency will send maids to families for a period no shorter than a week.
The new rule does not affect services of licensed private companies operating in economic free zones that provide staff on an hourly basis.
“Committed to limiting the spread of coronavirus, MoHRE has suspended recruiting domestic workers for a few hours or days,” the ministry tweeted on Tuesday.
“The workers are provided for a period of seven days minimum for one family and are not allowed to be replaced or transferred during this period.”
Tadbeer centres in the UAE will also ensure the staff take a PCR test 48 hours before starting work in a new household.
A senior ministry official had urged people to hire domestic workers only through Tadbeer and avoid private agencies.
The centres were formed to help secure the rights of workers and create an official, heavily monitored channel for hiring.
Though private maid-hiring agencies are being phased out, there remain licensed ones, particularly in economic free zones, that offer staff at an hourly rate.
“This service [hiring] will only be provided by the official channel for domestic workers, Tadbeer,” Abdullah Ali Al Nuaimi, assistant undersecretary at the ministry, said last week.
“Applying through official channels will help reduce costs and ensure that qualified and well-trained workers are hired.”
This month, a new agreement between the UAE and Philippines was signed to protect Filipino domestic workers, ensuring their right to a fair wage and safe working conditions.
The government of Philippines had stopped the legal recruitment of Filipino domestic workers in 2014 after cases of ill-treatment were reported.
In 2017, the UAE introduced a law ensuring better rights and protection to such staff, including 30 days of annual leave, rest hours and the payment of salaries no later than 10 days after they are due.