Employing Domestic Workers in Dubai
Information on the paperwork and process involved in hiring domestic staff - details on forms, insurance, bonds and other issues...
Many families employ domestic helpers - a maid, nanny or driver - because of the convenience and general low cost. Employing a domestic helper involves an amount of responsibility as the employer is legally responsible for their actions as the sponsor.
- The sponsor must earn a monthly income greater than AED 6,000 (or greater than AED 5,000 if accommodation is paid for by the employer)
- Only families are allowed to sponsor a maid. A single person cannot sponsor a maid even if they make more than the minimum monthly income requirement
- The sponsor must be able to provide proof of adequate living arrangements (a minimum of two bedrooms or a larger apartment or villa)
Where to Find Domestic Help
People typically use newspaper classifieds, forums, bulletin boards in public places (supermarkets and community centres) or professional agencies when looking for domestic help. Word-of-mouth recommendations are also a popular hiring method.
Domestic helpers, like all expatriates, must be sponsored to live and work in Dubai. If employing full-time help, the sponsor must take on the responsibility and costs of employing the helper. If only part-time help is needed, use a licenced agency that provides helpers for hire on an hourly basis.
Maids and nannies may not work for more than one family or take on any part-time work. There are severe fines (between AED 50,000 and 70,000) and a risk of prison for the sponsor. Maids also face fines, prison and deportation if caught.
Part-time domestic help
There are a number of agencies that hire out maids on an hourly basis. There is usually a minimum time commitment per job and rates can vary from AED 25 to 40 per hour. Most maid agencies also hire out nannies at similar rates.
Full-time domestic help
Full-time maids and nannies must be sponsored by the head of the family they work for or by an agency with a specific operating licence. It is generally harder for a woman to sponsor domestic helpers and nearly impossible if she is not her own or her family's sponsor. Legally it is only possible to sponsor a maid from: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
There are two types of full-time maids and nannies. One is a live-in, where the maid lives at the sponsoring family's home. The other is a live-out, where living accommodation for the maid is provided away from the sponsor's home. In the case of a live-out maid, the employer still holds the same responsibilities as the sponsor.
This is a list of general fees due to get a residency visa, labour card and medical care for their domestic helper. These fees may vary slightly. There is an option to pay "urgent fees" to expedite the processing time. Fees can change: bring extra money in case there are unexpected fees.
- Residency visa: AED 5,100
- Refundable deposit: AED 2,000
- Application, various service fees and medical test: AED 1,500
- Government health card: AED 300
The visa must be renewed annually. The costs are the same except for the deposit which carries over.
A domestic helper's minimum salary recommendation depends on nationality. The regulations are made by the helper's respective consulate or embassy in the UAE. There is no maximum salary cap.
Rules and Regulations
Domestic helpers may not take on part-time work, or work for anyone other than the sponsor who applied for their visa.
There are no such things as freelance helpers or helpers on their own visas. If hiring a full-time domestic helper, they must be sponsored. However, there is one exception to this rule: An agency that is licensed to provide full-time, live-in helpers can be used. In this case, the agency is the sponsor and the employer should confirm with the Department of Economic Development that the agency is properly licensed to provide this service.
The sponsor is responsible for their helper's actions. It is illegal for maids to consume alcohol, live with a man unless she is married, or get pregnant if she is not married.
Domestic helper laws are set by the General Directorate of Resident and Foreign Affairs Dubai (DNRD) and cover maids, nannies, male house helpers and drivers.
Depending on the sponsor's particular situation, some of the requirements and procedures for processing residency visas and work permits may not all be necessary, or certain fees may change slightly. This is a general guideline and can change periodically.
Documents required to sponsor a domestic helper
- Labour contract, lease agreement and passport of the sponsor with a valid residency visa
- An application typed out by an authorised typing office
- To find an authorised typing office: Click here
- Passport and three photographs of the domestic helper
Once interviews are complete and a suitable domestic helper has been found, the following steps must be taken to process the residency visa and work permit.
- Pay deposit: Submit the required documents to the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (DNRD) with a refundable deposit of AED 2,000. The deposit is refundable only after the helper leaves Dubai at the end of their labour contract.
- Obtain a temporary visa: A temporary (pink) visa is issued for the helper. If the helper is out of the country, send them a copy so they can travel to Dubai. Leave the original at the DNRD counter at the airport. If the helper is already in Dubai on a different visa, the sponsor can either send them on a visa run (taking a day trip to a neighbouring country), or pay a fee to transfer the helper to the new temporary visa (see Special Circumstances below). The sponsor has 30 days to complete the following steps before this temporary visa expires.
- Health exam: Take the domestic helper to a government health centre for a health exam; an x-ray is taken and tests are carried out for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B, leprosy and pregnancy. They will probably be given the first of three doses of the Hepatitis B vaccine and need to return as instructed for the final two doses. To find a medical centre: Click here
- Officially apply and pay for residency visa: Once the results of the health exam are received, go to an authorised typing centre to fill out the residency visa application. The fee for a residency visa is paid at this time (AED 5,100). Take the completed application along with the required documents listed above to a DNRD office.
- Sign unified labour contract: At the DNRD office, submit all the final paperwork. The sponsor and the helper are asked to sign three copies of the unified labour contract provided by the DNRD. Be prepared to declare the monthly salary that will be paid as well as any stipulations to be included in the labour contract. This contract will detail job outline, days off, vacation and medical benefits, as well as government laws and regulations. The employer and the helper both keep a copy; the DNRD keeps a copy as well.
Once the helper's residency visa is approved, the helper receives the residency visa stamp in their passport as well as a Domestic Worker Card that they should carry at all times.
Most government offices have ladies counters which are dedicated lines for women. These counters are usually faster than the main counters.
DNRD offices are open Sunday to Thursday 08:00-20:00. Some of the main offices include:
- Main Office- next to Bur Dubai Police Station/Trade Centre Roundabout in Al Jafiliya
- Abu Hail Centre- near Hamriya Port/Palm Gate in Deira
- Jebel Ali- Jebel Ali Port
- Hatta Centre- near Hesan Hatta Hotel
- Bin Sougat Centre- Bin Sougat Centre in Al Rashidiya
- DNATA- inside DNATA main office next to Clock Tower Roundabout in Deira
Tel: 800 5111 / 04 313 9999 (both 24 hours)
There are additional requirements based on special circumstances.
Transferring a domestic helper from one sponsor to another:
- Obtain a No Objection letter (also known as a No Objection certificate or NOC) from the current sponsor of the domestic helper
- The helper must re-enter the country with the temporary visa to complete the residency visa process. This can be done by taking a day trip (also known as a visa run) to a neighbouring country. A transfer fee can be paid to avoid the helper doing a visa run
Domestic helpers in the country with a visit visa:
The employee must officially enter Dubai with the temporary visa to complete the residency visa process. This can be done by doing a visa run to a neighbouring country such as Oman or Bahrain. Alternatively, pay a transfer fee to have the visit visa transferred to the residency visa without leaving the country.