Having domestic help is the norm for both expats and locals in Dubai. Whether they just have a part-time cleaner coming for a couple of hours a week or a full-time, live-in maid, most people couldn’t imagine doing all the housework themselves. This idea may take some getting used to, especially for non-working spouses, but the relatively cheap cost of domestic staff will help you overcome any reservations you may have. Most non-working women find that having a cleaner or a maid gives them more time to spend with their children, their spouses and on themselves – and that has to be a good thing.

Live-in Maids

Most family accommodation contains a dedicated en -suite maid’s room. In older villas, this was often a small stand alone room in the garden. In more modern villas, the maid’s room is located on the ground floor, usually near the kitchen. Larger properties may provide a series of rooms where you can house several maids, a driver and a gardener.

Most maids are found by word-of-mouth or by notices on the notice-boards of supermarkets frequented by expats, including Spinneys, Choitrams and Park ‘n’ Shop. Agencies also exist which, for a hefty fee, will help you find domestic helpers from abroad who want to come and work in Dubai. They will normally allow you a 3-month trial with the maid. However, if things don’t work out after that time, you won’t get a refund. Examples of popular recruitment agencies include:

If you want to employ a full-time maid, you must sponsor her yourself on a full domestic worker’s visa. You may hear of people employing maids that are not on their sponsorship. However, you should know that the penalties for being caught are very severe. Fines of up to AED 70,000 are payable if you are using a part-time or full-time maid that you are not sponsoring. These fines are also payable if you are caught lending a maid that is on your sponsorship to someone else. In both cases, you will be banned from employing any domestic help in the future and the maid will be deported and given a one-year ban from the UAE. In extreme cases, you may face one month’s imprisonment and deportation.

As the employer, you are responsible for sponsoring any domestic help and arranging for his/her visa. To do this, you must be able to prove that you earn more than AED 6,000 a month. Bachelors are not allowed to sponsor domestic staff.

Currently, maids can only be sponsored from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Philippines, and Sri Lanka. Each of these countries has set their own minimum wages for domestic helpers in the UAE. More information about these can be obtained from the respective consulates. For a live-in maid, expect to pay between AED 1,200 and AED 2,000, including room and board and flights back to her home country once every two years.

The application for the one-year domestic help visa for the person you are sponsoring will be obtained from the Department of Naturalization & Residency (http://www.dnrd.gov.ae/DNRD?lang=en-GB), tel: 04 313 9999, which is located next to the Bur Dubai Police Station near the Trade Center roundabout in Bur Dubai. The process can take up to a month, but you can speed up the process at each step by paying urgent fees for both the processing of the health card and the residence visa.

You will need to provide the following:

  • a passport copy of the person you are sponsoring which is valid for at least another 6 months
  • three passport-size photographs of the person you are sponsoring
  • copies of your passport and your spouse’s passport with valid residence permits in both
  • a salary certificate or labour contract from your sponsor (usually your employer) in Arabic to prove that your monthly salary is more than AED 6,000
  • your accommodation contract or tenancy agreement
  • if the person is from the same country as you, you will need an affidavit from your embassy/consulate certifying that you are not related
  • medical test results and a health card for the person you are sponsoring from a government hospital such as Al Baraha Hospital (http://www.albarahahospital.8m.com/english1.htm) and Al Muhaisnah Medical Fitness Center (Tel: 04 5023939). Cost varies from AED 275-400.
  • a cash deposit of AED 2,000 to apply for the residence visa, repayable after the visa is stamped in his/her passport
  • a yearly payment of AED 5,000 to the Ministry of Labor

If you want to employ a maid who is already in Dubai under someone else’s sponsorship you still have to follow the process above. However, you will also need a letter of no-objection from that person’s previous sponsor.

Remember, things do not always work out and maids have been known to leave their sponsor and try to find illegal part-time work elsewhere. The police will get involved if your maid does abscond as you are responsible for her while she is in the country. It is illegal to hold on to your maid’s passport, but you should keep a copy.

Part-time Maids

Many people find that they do not want or do not need a full-time maid. It is important to remember that you should not borrow a maid who is on someone else’s sponsorship as the penalties for all concerned are very severe (see above). You must get a maid from one of the many agencies. You should be aware that a lot of the agencies may not be able to meet your needs without a lot of advanced notice as part-time maids are very much in demand. When you are hiring part-time domestic help, you should specify your requirements to the agency. They will try to match your needs with the staff they have available. As you must have a residence visa to be able to sponsor a maid, a part-time maid from an agency is your only option when you first arrive in Dubai.

Charges typically vary between AED 30 and AED 50 per hour depending on the agency, the nature of the work and the time of day.

Domestic help agencies include:

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