If you are an expat working in Saudi Arabia it can be very difficult to legally find additional help to keep your home clean, the washing done and even the children looked after. You cannot sponsor a maid if you are not a Saudi and a worker cannot work for someone that is not their sponsor so if you need domestic help in KSA currently your options are very limited.
You can hire a maid illegally as there are many available that have run away from abusive or non-paying sponsors, these maids can be very good or you could end up with one that is completely dishonest; one of my friends hired an Indonesian girl as a maid on a part time basis only to have her steal his watch, wallet, laptop and other small items while he was running an errand. He returned from his errand to find her gone from his home and of course he had no address for her or other ID so had no way to find her other than looking for her in the area that he managed to recruit her. He also could not go to the police as he had hired her illegally and on top of that he was a bachelor and should not have been alone in the house with her.
In addition to the possibility of finding a dishonest worker you will also find that many will ask for wages that are above the normal Saudi rates for the work, although the wages are still low when compared to most western expats wages or what they would have to pay in their home countries. Most Saudis pay in the region of 1300 SAR per month for a maid, most freelancers will ask 1500 to 2000 or in some cases even more as they know that your options are limited.
Finding a maid can be quite difficult, most of the people that I know ask the maids of friends if they know of someone that is available or they will go to one of the souks where these women tend to meet and hope to meet someone that is looking for work or at least knows someone that is. If you are offering a salary on the higher side you will very quickly find a maid, and have her start sometimes within a few days; if you are offering the “normal” salary it may take several weeks to find someone depending on the amount of demand at the time.
Some Saudis also recruit illegally to avoid the expense of having to sponsor a work visa and all of the related medical expenses and so forth, the time taken to legally recruit can be a few months or longer so they often see this as a better route.
This is all about to change however as the government is changing the rules for the hiring and sponsoring of domestic workers, they are licensing various agencies within the kingdom to recruit domestic workers from overseas and have them available for hire to Saudi and even expat households. For now Saudis will be able to still recruit and sponsor their own visas but many will avail of this new way of getting domestic help.
These agencies will be responsible for all of the recruitment process for domestic workers and for housing and supporting them until they are found work in the kingdom. This will mean that you should soon be able to go to the agency office and collect a new maid at a reasonable rate, it has been suggested between 1300 and 1500 SAR without any of the problems and processes that you currently have to go through.
It will be interesting to see how this affects the treatment of maids in the kingdom as now the agencies will be responsible for the welfare and payment of their employees subcontracted out to individual households. Where many maids currently suffer poor treatment and have sponsors that regularly fail to pay their wages this should be alleviated through the new system as the licensed agencies will now be responsible.
It will also be interesting to see how this affects the current ban on domestic workers from the Philippines and Indonesia; the governments have demanded better working conditions for their citizens and the Saudi government instead of ensuring more humane conditions have banned the employment of domestics from those countries! Maybe the new system will better meet the demands of these governments and allow the recruitment from these countries to resume.
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