Members of five Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have discussed plans for a regional system to manage domestic workers, the UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation said on Sunday.
Representatives from the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait “and a number of other officials in the GCC countries” attended a meeting on the sidelines of a labour conference in Cairo, the ministry announced on Twitter.
The group discussed a “common vision to run the file of domestic workers during all stages of the temporary contractual work cycle” it said.
Those present agreed to form a technical team to submit proposals that could “outline a common Gulf vision in the file of domestic workers”.
These recommendations will be considered in a future meeting, the ministry indicated.
The working conditions of domestic staff in the six-member GCC have come under scrutiny by human rights groups in recent years due to instances of physical, sexual and emotional abuse by their employers.
Most recently, the Philippines banned its workers from being deployed to Kuwait in February after President Rodrigo Duterte highlighted several instances of abuse.
These included the case of murdered maid, who body was hidden in a freezer for more than a year.
The Philippines is now negotiating an agreement with Kuwait designed to guarantee its workers certain rights including to retain their phones and passports and proper meals.
The UAE also approved a new domestic worker law last year designed to protect basic rights including the payment of salaries within 10 days of being due, the entitlement of one day’s rest per week and 12 hours of rest per day, and 30 days of paid vacation a year.