The Saudi government is mulling to set-up an insurance scheme for foreign-origin domestic workers employed in Saudi houses. If implemented, the scheme is expected to help thousands of Indians working in Saudi Arabia.

Importantly, the lack of rights, issues of social security and deplorable working conditions of the overseas employees in the Middle East, includes the Kingdom has been always a hot topic of discussion. Currently, Saudi laws only require 8 hours of daily rest, permitting up to 16 hours of daily work, therefore no maximum daily working hours are set.

According to Adel Al-Issa, spokesman for the General Committee of Insurance Companies, “preparations are under way for meetings between the Ministry of Labor and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) to discuss the relevant directives and prepare a study related to the insurance of domestic workers against hazards, as well as provide medical insurance”.

The new provision will not only contribute to the protection of offices and recruitment companies that bring in domestic workers, but will also limit the role of middlemen involved in recruiting domestic workers.  It also seeks to cover accidents during work, abrupt termination, medical emergencies and illnesses, as well as violence inflicted by employers, exile, and termination due to unsatisfactory work. The Saudi Insurance Companies spokesperson also said that this step will reduce the big financial burden assumed by the citizens when they need to deport domestic workers because of the lack of agreement during the trial period.

Indian PM Narendra Modi did include the conditions of Indian Diaspora in the Middle East during his recent visit to the Saudi Kingdom. Infact, over the years, India has a diversified set of partnerships in the Middle East. During Indian PM Visits, he has also extensively engaged privately with members of the Indian community. Recently, The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also ordained the highest civilian award of Saudi Arabia, The Order of Abdullah, by King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz. If he is able to bring something constructive to the NRI community, it will not only be heartening but will also be highly appreciated.

There are currently an estimated 500,000 Indian domestic workers in the Kingdom – — the largest chunk of our Diaspora in West Asia, of which 10% are female. The kingdom overall hosts an estimated 1.5 million domestic workers in total. If implemented, the scheme will come as a boon to thousands of these NRI workers.

by Ashwani Srivastava

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