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To sponsor a housemaid in Bahrain

Several families in Bahrain have domestic help of some kind ranging from part-time cleaner to full-time live-in housemaid. While some of them are arranged through domestic help agencies, some take over the sponsorship of a maid, whose family is leaving. However, it is better not to employ one of the women who will just knock or arrive at your doorstep when you have moved in, asking for work, unless you check their visa status carefully.

Ways to hire a housemaid

In Bahrain, there are several ways to employ a housemaid to maintain your home. One of the popular methods of hiring a maid is by hiring a part-time maid to come in a few times a week to clean. They can be paid an hourly rate of whatever is prevailing at the time of hiring (you can check with your friends or neighbours to get an approximate idea of payment if they are hiring a part-time maid). The number of hours that the maid stays depends on the size of your home and the condition it is kept in.

Several people also choose to sponsor a maid, as live-in or live-out to work for them. For this, you can either go through an agency, in which case, the agent can give you details of potential maids, but, you may not get the opportunity to meet them face to face. The cost involved in hiring a maid from an agency will include the agent’s fee, the cost of bringing the maid to Bahrain and the cost of work permit. When hiring the maid through an agency, the salary required may be minimal, but, as an employer, you will have to bear the responsibility of her housing, food, clothing, toiletries, internet, and telephone charges.

The best method of sponsoring a maid is to hire a maid who already lives in Bahrain, looking for a new job. Another easy way to find a maid is to look at supermarket notice boards or by word of mouth.

Recruiting a local maid allows potential employer to interview her face-to-face and to have a thorough assessment of the employee. The salary of a locally recruited maid would be slightly higher than an agency maid, but, as an employer, you will not have to incur any additional fee.

Housemaid Visa

To sponsor a maid, you need to have a housemaid visa. To obtain a housemaid visa, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Be married
  • Have at least two children less than 15 years of age
  • Draw a minimum salary of BD1000 monthly
  • Possess a No Objection Letter from your sponsor / employer (as sponsor’s approval is required for visa which will be in the employer’s name). In case you change your employer, the visa has to be transferred in the housemaid’s passport from the ex-employer to new employer.
  • It costs about BD150 annually to obtain a 2 year visa for a housemaid, apart from additional cost to cover insurance, documentation, depending on the location from where you hire your maid.
  • In case a maid is required to take care of an ill or old family member, a medical certificate to that effect needs to be submitted.

Procedure

After a work permit is obtained, you will have to obtain an entry visa for the maid called the No Objection Certificate. If recruiting through an agency, when the maid arrives in Bahrain, you can meet her at the agent’s office. The NOC permits the maid to stay in the country for four weeks, during which, the duration of her stay has to be regulated.

Before the end of four weeks, she will have to undergo a mandatory medical check-up which includes blood tests, visions tests, X-Rays etc., to check for infectious diseases if any. A medical certificate is then issued stating that she is physically fit for work. After this, you can process her residency permit. However, it would be better still, if the medical tests are already done in her country of origin.

Job contract

Requirement for attestation of employment contract for housemaids:

  • The housemaid should not be below 30 years of age.
  • Agreement Application form can be collected from the embassy
  • NOC (Visa)
  • Work permit from Labour Ministry (in the employer’s name)
  • CPR copy of the employer
  • Passport copy of the employer
  • Passport copy of the employee
  • The employer of the maid should draw a minimum salary of BD1000 per month (salary slip to be attached along with bank statement for last three months). In case of businessman, copy of CR and latest bank statement need to be attached.
  • Bank Guarantee Certificate of USD2500 from any national bank in Bahrain is required. The amount will be returned to the employer when the maid departs Bahrain, on obtaining a statement from her that she has been paid her salary and has not been harassed in any way. The maid will have to personally give the statement in the presence of an embassy official.
  • A mobile phone with SIM card at the cost of employer should be given to the housemaid.

Majority of the housemaids from Philippines come through recruiting agents, while it is not so with Sri Lankan domestic workers. In case of job contract of Sri Lankan domestic workers, their government obliges its nationals to have health insurance before travelling overseas, wherein the insurance policy covers worker’s deportation to Sri Lanka in the event of death, illness or accident. It also covers hospitalisation when working abroad and up to 60 days medical treatment after returning to home country.

A standard job contract between recruiting agent in Bahrain and the sponsor involves three-month probation period for new domestic workers, during which, either worker or the sponsor can terminate the contract, if not satisfactory.

In case the maid refuses to work in the house of her new sponsor, the agent should find her a new employer. During research, it has been clear that in such cases, the agent provides sponsors with another housemaid. Similarly, the sponsor himself can contact the agents and ask for replacement of the maid, if he/she is not satisfied with maid’s services.

On the other hand, the probation period for Indonesia workers is six months, as the Indonesia government had intervened to ban its nationals from working as domestic helps in the Gulf, except Saudi Arabia, due to some cases of physical and sexual abuse. The ban was lifted only recently.

Termination of employment

At the end of contract period, you may have to bear all costs towards your maid’s repatriation, including flight charges. If mutually acceptable, you can seek visa extension if you wish to extend duration of the contract, or you can find her a new sponsor. But, as a sponsor, you will be responsible for all associated expenses with passport, visa and residency renewals during her employment with you.

Some useful tips

  • Before hiring a maid, it is essential to have a clear idea of your requirements, and find the best person to fulfil them. Some families even trial several maids before choosing the right person.
  • Irrespective of whether you employ a part-time or full-time maid, be precise with your expectations from the beginning. The job contract should explain complete details of your arrangement.
  • A copy of the contract should be given to the maid too, and if required, be translated to Arabic.
  • It would be best to be precise with your expectations from the beginning, and specify the number of sick and annual leave that you are willing to accommodate.
  • Adopt a zero tolerance policy towards dishonesty and theft.
  • Write your address, telephone number and alternative contacts, which your maid can use as quick reference during emergencies.
  • As you are responsible for overall welfare of your maid, apply for a health card for her.
  • Patience, understanding and open communication can go a long way in maintaining a good relationship with your maid.