Outflow to Gulf, Malaysia back for housemaid jobsRecruiting agencies have started sending Nepali housemaids to the Gulf and Malaysia.
Recruiting agencies have started sending Nepali housemaids to the Gulf and Malaysia.
The Department of Foreign Employment said it has issued work permits to more than 50 women to go abroad through the institutional channel since the government lifted the travel ban earlier this year.
The government had lifted the ban on Nepali housemaids in May, making a U-turn on its commitment to easing the restriction only after signing labour agreements with the host countries. The move also contradicts a clause of a new guideline on domestic workers that necessities labour agreements with the host country before sending housemaids.
The move had drawn sharp criticism from some stakeholders including Nepal’s foreign missions and a section of the recruiting agencies.
“Some of our embassies are still unhappy with the decision as they haven’t been able to cope with an increasing number of female migrants seeking help against exploitation,” said an official at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, adding that several Nepali embassies in the Gulf are delaying the process to accredit the human resource centre in the destination country.
The ministry had imposed a “temporary travel ban” in July, 2014, sixth such restriction since the 1990s, on Nepali housemaids, citing the need for stronger regulations to “protect them from widespread abuse and exploitation” abroad.
So far, only three women have left for housemaid jobs in the countries while others are making preparations for departure, according to the recruiting agencies. On Tuesday, Mina Subba of Jhapa and Kalawati Chapagain Nepal of Bardiya left for the United Arab Emirates through the Capital-based Sharon Manpower Services. Last month, two Nepali women had left for Lebanon to work as domestic help.
They were the first lots of women to go abroad through the institutional channel since the government restricted the manpower agencies to send housemaids in 2012.
In April last year, the government endorsed new guidelines on domestic workers, making major changes to the law, besides setting the minimum age, salary and benefits for women leaving as domestic workers. Consultation with recruiting agencies by women willing to take up foreign jobs is being made mandatory for the first time.
According to the guideline, women below 25 cannot take up domestic jobs. The government has chosen 49 agencies to send housemaids.
The decision has divided rights activists. While some argue that the government should start issuing permits to domestic helps as the new guidelines ensure proper safety nets, many argue that the rules would make little difference without the foreign governments accepting them.
Labour Ministry officials said they decided to lift the ban after realisation that many women were going abroad via India with the help of recruitment agencies, unauthorised agents and travel agencies on tourist visa.
Labour Ministry Spokesperson Govinda Mani Bhurtel said the decision was taken in consultation with all the stakeholders.
“The employers should comply with the provisions incorporated in the guidelines to be eligible to hire housemaids,” he said.
According to the rules, every worker is entitled to cost-free hiring, proper accommodation, 24-hour health and life insurance, a weekly holiday and 30-day annual leave and regular contact with their families back home. Housemaids should get $300 in minimum wage.
It also makes it binding for the sponsor or foreign agencies to receive a female migrant at the airport, take her to the Nepali embassy within a week and then every four months.