As part of a comprehensive plan to streamline the domestic service sector, the Kingdom has decided to sign agreements with six labor-exporting countries to recruit domestic helpers.
“Labor Minister Adel Fakeih will travel to New Delhi on Wednesday to ink the new labor pact for the recruitment of domestic workers from India,” Dr. Ahmed F. Al-Fahaid, deputy labor minister for international affairs, told Arab News during an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
Al-Fahaid pointed out that “India is the second country after the Philippines to endorse a historic labor cooperation agreement for domestic workers.”
Sri Lanka will ink a similar labor pact in the Saudi capital on Jan. 14, he said. Major labor-exporting countries, such as Indonesia, Nepal, Vietnam and Cambodia, are also working closely with the Kingdom to sign the agreement in the near future, he said.
In reply to a question about other labor exporting countries intending to deploy domestic workers, he said the Labor Ministry has no plans to limit its sourcing to only seven countries.
“We have sent a similar draft agreement to Pakistan … and we are waiting for their reply,” he said, adding that the ministry will be willing to sign similar pacts with countries which intend to send domestic aides.
Asked about the salient features of the agreements that are planned to be signed with the six countries, including India, he said that the agreement will only allow hiring of domestic helpers through licensed recruitment agencies which comply with Saudi regulations and of the country deploying the domestic workers.
“The agreement with India, or for that matter any other country, is historic because this is the first time that the Saudi government intends to sign an agreement of this nature,” said Al-Fahaid, who left for India on Tuesday to make arrangements for the signing ceremony. He said the agreement offers a fool-proof protection mechanism, including insurance, especially for domestic workers.
He explained that the labor agreement to be signed with India is for a five-year term with the provision for automatic renewal after its expiry. The labor pact prohibits salary deductions from a domestic worker for any recruitment cost, and penalties will be imposed on violators, he noted. The agreement will prevent contract substitution since the Saudi government is committed to fully enforce regulations on the hiring of domestic helpers, said Al-Fahaid.
Explaining the categories of domestic aides to be covered under the new format of the agreement, he said the agreement will cover 12 categories of workers including house drivers, cleaners, housemaids, janitors, tutors and private waiters working for individuals/families. “Even a pilot working for an individual or family (other than an airline or a business) will be treated as a domestic service worker under the agreement,” he explained.
Referring to the benefits of such a model agreement to be signed by the Kingdom with labor exporting countries he said, “We are very confident that cases of abuse will reduce significantly after this agreement takes effect because the accord ensures fair and humane treatment of domestic helpers.” A 24-hour mechanism for domestic workers’ assistance will be in place within the framework of the agreement.
Al-Fahaid pointed out that the format of the agreement has changed only slightly. The agreement provides expeditious settlement of labor contract violation cases; and facilitation of exit visas for repatriation upon contract completion or during emergency situations, said the deputy minister.
There is a provision in the draft agreement that the Kingdom and the country which intends to deploy domestic workers will establish a joint committee to monitor and evaluate compliance with the provisions of the new agreement. In turn, the labor-exporting country will ensure that the domestic workers being deployed in the Kingdom are qualified and medically fit.

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