KUWAIT: Domestic helpers usually work fulltime in their sponsors’ houses in Kuwait. They are hired directly from labor-exporting countries like Ethiopia, India, Nepal and the Philippines, or sometimes they are hired from local recruitment agencies. But for those residents who are unable or unwilling to sponsor a fulltime maid in Kuwait, the option of hiring part-time helpers from numerous maid agencies in the country is a reasonable one.

Kuwait has faced a slew of challenges in recent years regarding the recruitment, hiring and treatment of domestic helpers, most of whom come from impoverished countries. But hiring a part-time maid is now becoming an unnerving task for many residents as most agencies have made recruitment costs more expensive for some nationalities.

Numerous domestic help agencies claim to offer part-time cleaning services at affordable rates. Maid agencies charge KD 180 per month for domestic helpers from India, Nepal and Ethiopia. Meanwhile, hiring a maid from Sri Lanka costs KD 200 a month. It also depends on the location and the type of accommodation, where a maid that can cook and clean is hired for a higher cost than one who can only clean.

Many expats also employ helpers, whether for cleaning, driving, childcare or cooking. In fact it has become quite common for residents to have domestic help – some have live-in helpers while others have part-time ones. In many families, both the husband and wife work, so hiring a maid becomes necessary in order to keep the household running in a neat and orderly fashion.

According to Kuwaiti laws, it is not legal for citizens or expats to engage domestic helpers for part-time work. The maid can only work for her sponsor and his immediate family, despite demands by a large number of residents to allow this type of work.

Last week, Kuwait has set a minimum wage for its hundreds of thousands of mostly Asian domestic workers, in a first for Gulf states which have come under widespread accusations of abuse. A decree issued by Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah set the minimum wage at KD 60 ($200) a month and also granted domestic staff a raft of other rights.

By Faten Omar (Kuwait Times)

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