Filipinos allowed to seek domestic workers jobs in UAE in new deal

Manila will verify contracts for the first time since 2014

Filipinos will be allowed to seek domestic work in the UAE following a new deal between the two countries.

The  Emirati and Filipino labour ministries agreed to resume the recruitment of household staff from April.

The formal hiring of such workers was suspended in  2014, when Filipino missions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai stopped verifying contracts.

Despite that, jobseekers and recruiters found ways around the ruling, in a grey market that the authorities have sought to better regulate for years.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and the Filipino Department of Labour and Employment said recruitment would only recommence through official channels approved by the two countries.

The deal came after recent meetings in Manila between a delegation from the UAE, led by Saif Al Suwaidi, Undersecretary for Human Resources Affairs.

Workers must be guaranteed eight hours of rest  and a paid day off every week, the Filipino authorities said.

They must have access to their own bank account, be able to keep a mobile phone and cannot have their passport or ID document taken from them.

Mr Al Suwaidi said the deal will control and regulate the recruitment process in a way that preserves the rights of all parties, as well as help reduce costs, particularly recruitment fees.

Philippine labour undersecretary Claro Arellanosaid the agreement would be covered by a unified employment contract that contains stringent measures to protect workers.

Under the unified contract, the employer, foreign recruitment agencies and Filipino recruitment agencies are bound by joint and solidary liability should anything happen to a worker.

The move  follows the UAE's decision last month to shut all non-government maid-hiring agencies by March to better protect the rights of workers and employers.

Private maid recruitment companies in the UAE can remain open as affiliates to government-run Tadbeer centres and work as "internal recruiters" if they follow specific guidelines.