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Philippines to allow domestic workers to be employed in UAE after ending suspension

Move comes after two countries agreed deal guaranteeing additional protections for Filipino domestic staff
The Philippines Department of Labour and Employment said the new agreement was similar to one now being used in Kuwait (AFP)

The Philippines will lift a suspension on its maids working in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after striking a deal with the Gulf state that guarantees additional protections for its domestic workers.

Filipino workers will now be able to work in the UAE from 31 March after the new provisions were added to the UAE-Philippines Memorandum of Understanding on Labour Cooperation.  

The Philippines Department of Labour and Employment (Dole) confirmed on Tuesday that Filipino maids would be given a unified employment contract to provide them with additional protections.

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A unified employment contract means that foreign and local recruitment agencies are liable for any harm that happens to the contracted Filipino worker.

Under the new deal, Filipino maids in the UAE will keep their own passports and their employers will be banned from holding them. 

The Philippines embassy in the UAE will also be notified if one of their nationals decides to convert their tourist visa to a work visa.  

The deal also states that domestic workers should get at least eight hours of sleep a day, one paid day off per week, the right to have a bank account for their salary and be allowed to cook their own food.

Other agreed protections include allowing Filipino domestic workers to keep their mobile phones and a ban on employers from confiscating them.

Two-day meeting

The new set of protections is similar to one agreed by the Philippines and Kuwait after domestic workers' deployments to that Gulf state were also halted following reports of maid abuse, according to Dole Undersecretary Claro Arellano. 

The UAE agreement came after a two-day meeting in Manila with an Emirati delegation to discuss the conflicting labour laws. 

Manila halted Filipino domestic workers going to the UAE in 2014 after the Emiratis stopped foreign embassies from verifying the contracts of their nationals working as domestic help. 

The UAE's rule change went against Filipino law, which states that labour agencies must verify and record all domestic workers' contracts before they are deployed to a country. 

The Philippines Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello praised the new agreement and said it marked a milestone in his country's attempt to protect overseas Filipino workers. 

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