The option of hiring domestic staff on a part-time basis in Kuwait has caused problems for many families unable to contend without the services of a maid.
While the salary of a full-time maid varies between $120 and $300, a part-time maid earns $22 per hour. The majority of women prefer working on a part-time basis even though it violates the laws that govern the employment of maids in Kuwait which, for example, states that a maid cannot work for more than one family at a time.
Nasser al-Agami, owner of a maid recruitment agency in Kuwait, said that unauthorized people started working in this sector after realizing how much money it brings.
“Some people would recruit several maids from abroad and then make them work per hour,” he told Al Arabiya in a phone interview. “This has led to the existence of thousands of illegal maids.”
According to the latest statistics, Kuwait is home to more than 500,000 unauthorized laborers.
There are several reasons, Agami explained, that make families resort to part-time maids, on top of which is the fact that it is always a faster solution.
“Maid recruitment offices now demand very high commissions that might reach more than $4,000 for some nationalities then it takes at least a month to finish the maid’s paperwork and sometimes problems happen and the maid never comes. That is why it is now easier for families to use maids who work by the hour.”
Agami added that the money part-time maids get per month could reach $5,000.
“A maid would get $22 per hour and if we assume that she works eight hours a day, she would then get $170 every day. This means $5,100 per month.”
This amount, Agami noted, is the minimum since some maids work 10 hours or more.
“At the end of the day, the salary of a part-time maid can be equal to that of a manager in a government institution.”
Agami said that he and several other owners of recruitment offices are keen on abiding by the law and are not involved in the part-time maid business.
“Yet we are unable to fight this phenomenon because there are so many out there who make so much money out of this business and laws are not deterrent enough to stop them.”
For Om Youssef, full-time maids have been causing several problems and that is why many families prefer part-time ones.
“In addition to the fact that it takes so much time to bring them, in many cases they run away right after they are brought after being tempted by fellow maids or owners of small recruitment offices to work part-time,” she told Al Arabiya.
Some maids, she added, would not run away but would insist on going back to the recruitment office, as part of the “return system” in the maid recruitment law, a few days after they are hired.
“According to the law, this makes the family who hired the maid lose half the commission, that is at least $1,700.”
Om Youssef explained that most of the time it is the recruitment office that agrees with the maid to come back so that she can be sent to another family and so on.
“It is a very lucrative business. The office would get half the commission in a couple of days then the same amount a couple of days later after offering the same maid to another family.”
Recruitment offices, said Om Youssef, are not the only party involved in the part-time maid system.
“Some families bring three or four maids through the legal channels then rent them to other families in return for a portion of the maids’ earnings.”
According to Om Youssef, each maid would pay around 1,000 dinars annually in return for the residency permit she gets for allegedly working for this family that initially brought her to the country.