The wages for Sri Lankan domestics taking up employment in Kuwait will increase under a new payment arrangement aimed at bolstering the job market in that country.
The scheme, which becomes effective from the beginning of this year, comes under an agreement signed by the Sri Lankan Manpower Welfare Association in Kuwait and the Association for Licensed Foreign Recruitment agents (ALFEA). Salaries will be based on the worker’s work experience and employment category.
ALFEA Secretary Faizer Mackeen told the Sunday Times that a domestic worker taking up employment for the first time will receive Kuwait dinars (KWD) 65, (about Rs. 26,400), up from the present KWD 50; an experienced worker will get KWD 75, up from KWD 60, and a worker with a knowledge of cooking will get KWD 85, up from KWD 60. (KWD 100 is equal to about Rs. 40,600.)
Mr. Mackeen said the new arrangement will make it possible to maintain wage rate control in the Kuwaiti job market and ensure fair treatment to both the employer and the worker.
He said the main reason for the previous low salary scale for domestic workers was the demand for huge fees from the sub-agents and brokers who supplied the bulk of the domestics to local recruiting agents.
“We were compelled to offer the workers low salaries in order to pay off these sub-agents and brokers, who have had a free run of the market because they do not have to register and pay registration fees, taxes, and so on,” Mr. Makeen said.
“At present, a Kuwaiti employer has to pay a non-refundable deposit of between KWD 570 and KWD 700 to obtain a maid on a two-year job contract. This money has to be paid in a single installment. “But now what will happen is that the employer will pay only between KWD 460 to KWD 480 in a single installment, and the balance will be added to the maid’s salary each month. So at the end of the day the domestic benefits and the employer does not lose,” he said.
Mr. Mackeen said that out of the money given by the employer, the Kuwait agent holds back KWD 80 as commission and the balance goes to the Sri Lanka agent. This money is used to cover air tickets and Foreign Employment Bureau and registration costs, as well as medical charges.
The new salary payment arrangement is also aimed at encouraging domestics to remain with their employers until they complete their contracts.