Jordan: Domestic workers take advantage of visa-amnesty
Some 200 Filipina domestic workers, who left their employers, have presented their documents to the Domestic Helpers Recruitment Agencies Association (DHRAA) to benefit from the [Jordanian] government's exemption of accumulated fines on their work and residency permits, the association said Wednesday.
Last week, the [Jordanian] government decided to exempt domestic helpers from accumulated fines for expired work and residency permits for a month to offer them a chance to rectify their work status in line with the ministry’s regulations.
DHRAA President Khaled Hseinat told The Jordan Times that some of the helpers, whose documents are currently being processed, had fled their work place over five years ago.
"The exemption is an opportunity for all parties involved in the recruitment process to comply with regulations as the accumulated fines have been a burden for a majority of these domestic helpers, preventing them from leaving the country or serving a different employer," Hseinat said.
He urged the embassies of countries sending domestic helpers to the Kingdom to cooperate with the association in securing flight tickets for those who prefer not to stay in Jordan.
Hseinat noted that a big number of the cases being handled by the association do not have their passports, which had been kept by their previous employers.
He said recruitment agents have started contacting those employers so they can settle any financial demands with their former employees.
"As for those who abandoned their workplace before their contracts expired, we will try to find them jobs based on a new contract," Hseinat said.
He added that the association agreed with the recruitment agents not to take any additional fees from new employers if they pay the dues owed by the workers' former employers.
Hseinat commended the cooperation of the Philippines' embassy in securing flight tickets for their nationals who wish to leave the country, calling on other embassies to follow suit.
He noted that many of these helpers were working illegally for local employers in places like beauty parlours and hospitality sector businesses.
"This practice is complicating the situation by encouraging some domestic helpers to leave their field of employment and work in a different sector where they get higher salaries," Hseinat added.
"We urge the Ministry of Interior to stiffen the penalties against local employers who break the law in such a manner," he said.
Previously, Hseinat said unofficial figures show that more than 30,000 domestic helpers face overstay fines or have expired work permits.
According to official figures, Jordanians currently employ some 70,000 domestic helpers. Of these, 40,000 are Indonesian and 13,330 from the Philippines.