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Gulf countries to upgrade contracts for domestic workers

Foreign domestic helpers, including Filipinos, in the Middle East can now expect improved working conditions soon to include annual leaves and eight-hour workdays.

This was after labor ministers from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreed on minimum terms in the contracts of domestic staff, reports said Wednesday.

Aside from annual leave and eight-hour work shifts, foreign domestic workers will be entitled to weekly dayoff and the right to live outside their employer's house, according to a report on Khaleej Times.

Employers have also been barred from confiscating their employee's passports, the report added. Under the contract, domestic helpers are also entitled to end-of-service indemnity and overtime pay for extra work for a maximum of two hours daily,

A separate report on Arab News said the contracts for foreign domestic workers were upgraded to “improve the widely criticized working conditions of over 2.4 million foreign maids” in the Middle East.

It quoted Director-general Jamal Al Dossari of Kuwait's Public Manpower Authority as saying that some countries insist that “they have laws that are better for workers,” but the labor ministers agreed that minimum terms must be granted to workers.

The Khaleej Times report said the new terms will take effect after approval by GCC labor ministers.

The GCC is composed of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

The Philippines is considered one of the biggest suppliers of domestic helpers in the Middle East, most of them in Saudi Arabia. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News