Domestic help is ridiculously (and, perhaps, exploitatively) cheap. Most maids originate from the Philippines, India, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka. You can find someone to cook, clean and mind the children for between Dhs1,000 and Dhs1,200 per month live-in, or Dhs1,500 to Dhs2,000 otherwise. It’s pure free market economics, and if the rates seem too much like slave labour, pay lots more.
Hiring a cleaner or maid on a casual basis can land you in serious trouble. The Ministry of Labour has cracked down hard on illegal workers, and will slap a Dhs50,000 fine on anyone who hires domestic workers on a cash-in-hand or visit visa basis.
A live-in maid must be sponsored by you, on a full domestic worker’s visa. Whether she has been recruited from abroad or you found her through the classifieds, you have to apply for a visa from the Dubai Naturalisation & Residency Department (04 313 9999). You must pay a lump sum to the Ministry of labour of Dhs5,000 every year, and be able to prove your monthly earnings are above Dhs6,000. You need three passport photos of your maid, along with a medical certificate. Full details at www.dnrd.gov.ae. You are also responsible for her health card, flight home every two years, and most incidental expenses, including food.
If for any reason the domestic worker leaves their employer before their contractual agreement ends, a ban is imposed on them which stops them from working in the UAE for six months, and they will have to re-enter the country on a new visa. This applies even if they have a no objection letter from their employer.
Nationals and expats caught borrowing or lending housemaids can incur a fine of Dhs50,000 and will not be permitted to sponsor a housemaid again. Take into consideration who else your actions might affect, as your housemaid will be deported and not allowed to re-enter the country for a year.
Go through a maid services company – there are plenty advertised online, but check their credentials. Employing a maid on a part-time basis through a reputable company ensures that you won’t fall foul of new government laws. Prices range from Dhs20-40 per hour. All maids services are required to renew their trade licence every year, and maids are placed on their company’s visa. Reputable outfits include: Home Help (04 355 5100) Ready Maids (04 294 8345; www.alkhadam.com).