Maids wage contracts must be honoured if signed, UAE Foreign Minister says

The UAE does not prevent foreign embassies from working to protect their citizens who are employed here, the Foreign Minister told the FNC yesterday.

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ABU DHABI // The UAE does not prevent foreign embassies from working to protect their citizens who are employed here, the Foreign Minister told the FNC yesterday.
Following a debate on efforts by the Philippines embassy to enforce a minimum wage for its citizens employed as domestic staff, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said that "if we want to support our nationals abroad, there can be no constraints for any country on protecting their nationals here".
He said Emiratis had the choice of whether to hire Filipinos or not.
But Hamad Al Rahoomi (Dubai) said the Philippines embassy has been ensuring that Filipina maids were paid at least US$400 (Dh1,469) a month, and drawing up contracts for their employment.
Although this was outside of the embassy's legal role, Sheikh Abdullah said Emiratis must abide by any contracts they signed.
"If an Emirati signed a contract, they must respect it, regardless of whether it came from the Philippines or not," he said.
Mr Al Rahoomi presented the council with a sample employment contract for a Filipina maid, which gave the embassy a key role in handling the arrangements for her hiring and conditions of work. That, he said, amounted to "direct interference between the employer and the employee".
He said a surge in salaries needed to be prevented by local authorities or be explained. He said a maid who had earned Dh900 a month for 10 years should not have her salary raised to Dh1,500 without good reason. Many families were now using side contracts to avoid this, he said. "Is it [the embassy influence] legal, and do Emiratis now have to abide by these contracts?" he asked.
Sheikh Abdullah said while this was outside his ministry's remit, signed contracts could not be disregarded.

osalem@thenational.ae