Saudi Arabia recruits Indian maids to ease labour shortage

Riyadh : Saudi Arabia has started issuing recruitment visas for domestic maids from India under a new employment contract finalised by the two nations, media reported Thursday.

Saudi Deputy Labour Minister Mufarrij Al-Huqbani said in a statement that the joint Saudi-Indian joint committee on labour issues finalised the recruitment contract that consist of several provisions to ensure the authenticity and implementation of the standard employment contract, the recruitment cost, action against recruitment agencies violating laws and a mechanism to prevent cheating by middlemen, the Saudi Gazette reported.

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This is the first time that the Indian government has entered into a labour cooperation pact with the Saudi Arabia.

The new recruitment will ease the shortage of domestic workers in the country.

The agreement is for five years and will be renewed automatically for similar periods.

Earlier in May, Indian and Saudi Arabian officials discussed points of standard employment contract for Indian workers in this country.

Saudi Arabia is home to around 2.8 million expatriate Indians, many of whom are blue-collar workers.

Indians form the largest expatriate community in this Gulf nation.

Of the around 500,000 domestic workers in Saudi Arabia, mostly working as maids, helpers, drivers and cleaners, around 10 percent are women, the report said.

The contract is based on the agreement on ‘Labour Cooperation for Domestic Service Workers Recruitment’ signed by Saudi Arabian Labour Minister Adel Fakeih and then Indian Minister of Overseas Affairs Vayalar Ravi in New Delhi in January this year.

A committee of senior officials from both countries will monitor the implementation of the pact to straighten out any difficulties.

The committee will meet regularly to discuss issues arising between the two parties from time to time.

Al-Huqbani said the recruitment offices and companies in Saudi Arabia would have to abide by the said contract.

The employment contract has been distributed to the National Committee for Recruitment and recruitment offices in the Gulf nation.

The contract seeks to establish a mechanism to provide 24-hour assistance to domestic workers.

The standard employment contract provides minimum wages, working hours, paid holidays and dispute settlement mechanism.

However, the joint agreement also puts forth specific conditions for incoming domestic workers.

“They should be of good conduct, should not have legal or criminal cases. They should pass medical check-up, abide by the laws and traditions during the period of work in the kingdom,” the report said.