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Cabinet endorses by-law amendments securing additional rights for foreign domestic workers

By Rana Husseini - Jun 24,2020 - Last updated at Jun 24,2020

According to the Phenix Centre for Economic Studies, the implementation of by-laws recently endorsed by the Cabinet giving domestic workers expanded rights should ensure that female workers’ rights are protected (Photo courtesy of Tamkeen)

AMMAN — Labour activists on Wednesday welcomed a recent Cabinet endorsement of amended regulations that guarantee additional rights for foreign domestic workers in the Kingdom.

On Wednesday, Minister of Labour Nidal Bataineh announced that the government endorsed a by-law that regulates the working conditions for domestic workers, cooks and gardeners, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

One of the main amendments endorsed obligates employers of foreign domestic workers to pay their salaries within seven days after their due dates, a condition that did not exist previously, Petra said.  

The by-laws also require secrecy when a labour inspector decides to meet with a foreign domestic worker and stipulate that an inspector obtain a judicial order before entering an employer’s home in the event of a complaint, Petra added.

“These are good amendments that will work to protect the foreign workers’ rights, but we have to wait and see how these by-laws will be implemented,” Director of the Phenix Centre for Economic Studies Ahmad Awad said.

Awad told The Jordan Times that the implementation of these by-laws should ensure that female workers’ rights are protected, “since many employers treat them as one of their family members and sometimes do not respect their rights”.

“Some families subject their foreign domestic female workers to long working hours and deprive them of their right to holidays. At the same time, these employees do not have enough information to reach out to the concerned authorities for help and guidance,” Awad explained.

According to Bataineh, the by-laws also stipulate that an employer may be prevented from hiring a foreign domestic worker if it is proven that the employer has abused a domestic worker in the past or has violated the Labour Law.  The hiring prevention period will be decided by the Labour minister, he said.

President of Tamkeen for Legal Aid and Human Rights Linda Kalash also lauded the amended by-laws, but said that it “works best in the event that the employer violates the rights of domestic workers”.

However, Kalash told The Jordan Times that the by-laws “lack certain important aspects” that civil society organisations have been calling for, such as establishing a shelter for domestic workers who leave their employers’ homes.

“We have called for the establishment of a shelter for foreign domestic helpers who leave their employers’ homes until the problem is solved,” Kalash said.

Kalash added that the by-laws also lack an article that obligates domestic worker recruitment agencies to establish direct contact between the employee and the employer.

“We have also called for opening communication channels between the two parties to ensure that foreign workers will have a good idea about what to expect when they start working for their employers, which helps to minimise problems,” Kalash said.  

The amended by-laws are expected to come into effect two months after they are published in the Official Gazette, according Kalash.


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