Part-time Maids

Muna Al Fuzai

Many families employ a maid to help with household duties, either on a full- or part-time basis. If you have one on a full-time and legal basis, then you shouldn’t worry, but if you have a part-time one, then you need to read this. The process to hire a maid in Kuwait involves the worker having an appropriate visa and sponsor. But some of these helpers may run away and start working for others, either on a full- or part-time basis. Even though this is against the law, it happens regularly all over Kuwait.

Before you allow a strange woman to enter your house as a part-time maid, please think twice. It is becoming a common phenomenon in Kuwait to hire a part-time maid to run the household or help with the extra work during Ramadan, and this is why you need to know enough about them – if they are runaways or not. After all, the law doesn’t protect fools.

If the part-time maid comes through a known and legal agency, then you have nothing to worry about. Because in case of trouble, you can easily contact the agency and they have all her details. But if you hired a maid through a person that you don’t even know or because she knocked on the door and offered her services, then you have to be careful, and this is your right. She might not be a maid and could land you in trouble with her sponsor or the police. How desperately do you need this headache?

Working conditions
How much should I pay a maid? You should ask around to get an idea of the salary you should pay her, whether it is on an hourly rate or a monthly sum for a prescribed number of hours. Keep in mind that domestic workers must have a sponsor who allows her to work outside his place. All part-time helpers claim they have the consent of their sponsors, or they don’t really care as long as the maids pay them the annual fees. This could be the truth, but not in all cases.

In the recent period, there have been increasing complaints of domestic workers absconding, a phenomenon that many interpret as the desire of these maids to receive higher salaries by working in more than one home and for more freedom, as many sponsors do not allow maids weekly leave, some do not pay salaries, subject them to verbal and physical harassment and make them work long hours without the provision of rest breaks. So they run away, but do not want to return to their countries, so they do not go to their embassies.

The fasting month of Ramadan is coming soon, and the season of maid escapes begins in Kuwait. The reasons for this are mainly due to the increase in workload during Ramadan, which means that the maid is required to work long hours and cook and clean the house more. It causes great stress and with lack of enough sleep, some maids end up fleeing the place.

But a shelter for maids will not solve the problem. A new domestic labor law was approved by the National Assembly in 2015 that agreed on the establishment of a joint stock company and other private sector companies to eliminate the problems resulting from recruitment agencies. This will make the maid work for adequate housing, humane treatment, monthly salary and clothing and food.

The recruitment agencies are silent about this phenomenon, stressing that the relationship of the office ends with the delivery of the maid to her sponsor, with a guarantee for a period not exceeding three months. Meanwhile, some of those who are robbed by part-time maids are reluctant to inform the authorities out of fear of legal accountability and fines. The law can’t guarantee that the sponsor will grant the maid all her rights as a worker and human being, so the problem of runaway maids will remain.

By Muna Al-Fuzai

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