Minister of Trade and Industry Abdullah Al-Joaan has received a collective claim from dozens of well-known owners of offices and companies that specialize in hiring domestic workers nationwide, challenging Ministerial Resolution No. (2/2024). Ministerial Resolution No. (103/2022), which lays out the price structure for hiring domestic help, is being amended in part by this resolution. They claim that the decision unfairly jeopardizes their enterprises and could force them into bankruptcy or liquidation, in addition to being in violation of legal statutes. They therefore request an immediate reconsideration of the decision in their petition.
Al-Jarida was able to obtain a copy of the grievance, which outlines the complainants’ discontent with the former Minister of Commerce’s decision to cap the costs associated with hiring domestic workers based on their nationality. For example, a maximum of 750 dinars was set for Asian workers, 575 dinars for African workers, and 350 dinars for workers with special passports. The petitioners contend that this decision was made in the midst of a government transition, was mostly centered on pressing issues, and did not involve the necessary thorough investigation or stakeholder involvement, which included the representative union.
In addition, the complainants clarify the expected profit margin for hiring agencies and businesses, calculated in accordance with Article 1 of Law No. (19/2016), which regulates the creation of domestic worker companies. The estimated margins are 35 dinars for workers with special passports, 57 dinars for workers from Africa, and 75 dinars for Asian workers, based on a regular rate of 10 percent of the recruitment cost as set by the Ministry of Commerce. Their concern is that the decision is driving businesses closer and closer to bankruptcy, as they doubt these margins’ capacity to pay for running costs including rent, staff salaries, housing, government levies, and advertising.
They also voice serious concerns about the possible impact on the hiring quotas for new domestic workers, predicting an impending crisis in their supply.
The petitioners draw attention to differences in the pricing structure, especially with regard to employees who possess special passports. They also express concerns about the lack of an authorized employment contract model that has been approved by the Public Authority for Manpower. They highlight the legal dangers that local offices bear when hiring people without these contracts, as per Article No. (68/2015) pertaining to domestic workers. They use the recruitment expenses for special passports from Sri Lanka as an example, which were significantly more than the ministry’s quoted cost and pointed to a clear decision-making process error.
In order to determine a fair and realistic recruitment cost that takes into account the interests of all stakeholders involved in the domestic worker sector, the complainants urge Minister Al-Joaan to immediately suspend the implementation of the current resolution until a thorough reassessment is conducted in collaboration with specialists.