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Saudi Arabia

Colombo moves to protect its maids

Sri Lankan women seeking foreign employment as housemaids will not be allowed to go abroad after July 15 unless they can maintain stable homes in their absence from the island, a Sri Lankan government minister told Arab News yesterday.
This is among new measures that also ensure the protection of these workers abroad, including a minimum wage, adequate rest time and a minimum age limit of 25.
Speaking from Colombo, Minister for Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare of Sri Lanka Dilan Perera said his government would do background checks on women wanting to work overseas.
“The conduct of the husband, the number of infants and children, protection and education of children after their mother goes abroad, the age and the health of the woman would be considered from July 15 when issuing permission to go abroad for employment,” the minister said.
Perera said the Sri Lankan government is faced with the challenge of protecting the rights of their workers abroad and at home.
“The maids face problems such as harassment, delayed wages and breach of contract in the host countries, while their families back home face serious socioeconomic problems,” the minister said.
Sri Lankan missions abroad have been informed about the scheme, he said.
Spelling out details of the new scheme, Mangala Randeniya, deputy general manager of the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE), told Arab News that it includes a minimum wage, working hours of the maids and the type of training given back home.
Randeniya said the minimum age limit for housemaids working in Saudi Arabia would be 25 years and a minimum monthly wage of SR 900. Maids would have to undergo a 21-day training course before being posted overseas.
Maids would in future be given the title “Domestic Housekeeping Assistants.” They should also be allowed at least eight hours sleep a day, he said.
“These conditions are laid down in the new job contracts between the Sri Lankan job agent and the Saudi recruitment company. We will hold the Sri Lankan job agents responsible for any violations of the accepted contracts,” Randeniya said.
Regarding the recruitment of other workers, he said the SLBFE would assist the companies in the host countries to train the workers. “We have well established training centers to update the skills of prospective foreign workers,” he said. Trainers are also provided to help employers in their workplaces.
“An innovative mechanism is currently being developed in Sri Lanka to implement job-specific, country-specific and company-specific training programs for the citizens who seek foreign opportunities,” he said.
Regarding complaints from housemaids, he said they were minimal in relation to the housemaid population in the Kingdom. Around 80 percent of the island's workers in the Kingdom are housemaids.

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