A major survey charting the role of domestic nannies in the UAE has revealed the average salary is Dh1,800 per month - and that just 15 per cent have have any sort of childcare training.
According to the UAE Nanny Salary Survey, from rise, a wealth platform for low-income workers, the majority of nannies (60 per cent) earn less than Dh2,000 working as a domestic helper, while 40 per cent earn Dh2,000 or more and one in ten over Dh3,000.
The data was collected from more than 20,000 nanny-recruitment advertisements on Mary Poppins, a Facebook nanny-hiring group, which is run by rise.
“Nannies play a critical role in our society,” said Padmini Gupta, the chief executive of rise. "One in four women in the UAE is a nanny and our kids spend on an average 55 hours a week with them.
“For such an impressive and large segment, little information exists in the public on what makes a good nanny, how much they get paid and what criteria are important when hiring one.”
According to rise, there are about 750,000 nannies working across the UAE, with 95 per cent of UAE children under nanny care.
The study found that maids with more experience are able to command higher salaries; those with three years’ experience earn an average Dh1,492 while those with five years plus earn an average Dh1,922.
The study also broke down salaries according to the areas the domestic helpers are employed. Focusing on Dubai, the study found that those in more affluent areas have a higher earning power, such as Palm Jumeirah (Dh2,350) and Meadows (Dh2,300). However, domestic helpers living in Old Dubai only earn an average Dh1,700.
Rasheda Khatun, a wealth and wellness planner says Dh1,830 is a “good starting salary” but she would expect the average to be higher.
"Assuming the Dh1,830 average is for a live-in nanny or one where accommodation is paid for, this then gives room for their employer to be able to increase on an annual basis," says Ms Khatun, who has a live-in nanny for her one-year-old son she stated on a rate of Dh2,100.
"What's important here is to take into consideration the actual value of their salary in terms of their own currency and how far it goes there. Many maids are supporting their families back in their home countries, so it is important that the salary they are on can help them do that comfortably."
The study said certain factors increase a maid’s earning power. Live out maids earn an extra Dh400 on average to cover their living expenses, and those employees with first aid training can boost their salaries by Dh250 a month.
Being happy to care for pets brings in an extra Dh185 and cooking skills Dh125; those working for new families in the UAE tend to earn an extra Dh200 over those employed by families that have lived in the Emirates for longer.
Milind Singh, cofounder of rise, said, “A nanny can improve her earning power, by upskilling herself in areas on child safety, nutrition and child development.
“We should not view it as how maids can negotiate a better deal, but how mothers and maids can arrive at a satisfactory compensation - which should include the ability to learn and support in managing their finances. Salary is only one component of their compensation.”
Some employers now request specific skills, according to the study, with 60 per cent of employers demanding references, one in four want cooking skills and a fifth expecting their maid to have first-aid skills. One in ten also want domestic helpers that can drive.
And the study said 98 per cent of mothers surveyed, said that having a trained nanny was important to them with more than six in ten saying it was of critical importance.
However, according to rise, only 15 per cent of nannies in the Emirates have any sort of childcare training.