The government has allowed Nepali migrant workers to work as domestic help in Gulf and Malaysia.
Endorsing the guidelines on domestic migrant workers today – as part of its preparations to lift travel ban on Nepali housemaids – the government is also planning to allow Nepali women aged 25 and above to work as housemaid in those destinations through ‘a few selected’ recruiting agencies.
The Ministry of Labour and Employment said that it will lift the ban in the next few months, as the cabinet committee – on Tuesday – gave green signal to the ministry’s plan.
“It is expected to address most of the problems facing the outbound domestic workers,” said labour expert Dr Ganesh Gurung.
Nepali women migrant workers constitute around 15 per cent of the total Nepalis working in the Gulf and Malaysia but most of them had entered through informal channels. “Sending women without proper legal and technical framework could be counterproductive for workers, as it’s not right to send them as domestic help without guaranteeing legal protection, Gurung added.
After many cases of exploitation were reported in the media, the government was forced to impose a ‘temporary ban’ in July for women going to the Gulf and Malaysia as housemaids. The rights groups asked the government to form stronger regulations to protect women migrant workers from widespread abuse and exploitation in the region – that is not friendly for women – and is less concerned about human rights due to a closed society.
Earlier in August 2012, the government had imposed age bar by banning women migrant workers under the age of 30 from taking up domestic jobs in the Gulf and Middle East. Despite the ban, the recruiters have been sending women migrant workers to these destinations through illegal channels like via New Delhi, increasing risk of human trafficking.
The lifting of the ban will help free movement of desparate women to go through legal channel to take up jobs in the Gulf and Malaysia minimising the risk but increasing accountability of government and recruiting agencies.
“Only the recruiting agencies, which meet criteria and assessment test of the government will be eligible to send workers for overseas jobs,” according to the guidelines that has stated that the recruiting agencies will have to deposit Rs 2.5 million each to acquire accreditation to send women migrant workers as housemaids.
The ministry will soon issue a public notice asking the interested outsourcers to submit applications for the nomination process, spokesman of the ministry Buddhi Bahadur Khadka said.
Though the rights groups had asked the government to sign Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and labour agreement to ensure minimum wage, and safety of female workers – before lifting the ban – in the the labour receiving countries, the guidelines, however, is silent on the issues.
But state minister for Labour and Employment Tek Bahadur Gurung has assured that the government would gradually sign MoU and labour agreements with the destination countries.
“We should not ban the right to mobility of female migrant workers,” he said, adding that the country will start sending them and gradually sign required agreements.
According to the guidelines, every migrant worker shall be entitled to cost-free hiring, proper accommodation, 24-hour health and life insurance, a weekly off and 30-day annual leave and regular contact with their families back home, according to the guidelines.
It has also made mandatory for the sponsor or foreign agencies to receive female migrant at the airport on arrival, take her to the Nepali embassy within a week of her arrival and in every four months. It has asked the human resource agencies based in labour destinations to obtain accreditation from the Nepali embassies to hire Nepali domestic help. “They will have to deposit $10,000 and contract documents with their Nepali counterparts for accreditation,” the guidelines stated, “The embassy will send work contract demands after verification of documents. The sponsor is also required to deposit $1,000.”

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