When housemaids and drivers run away leaving sponsors in lurch

Bolt from the blue


Saudi Gazette report

THE increasing number of domestic workers has caught the interest of many social experts in the Kingdom in the last few years. Many have conducted social studies about the economic impact and security problems those workers cause to some Saudi families, Al-Riyadh daily reported. Many families have suffered financially after their domestic workers used them to gain entry into the Kingdom before escaping.

Because of the absence of laws protecting families against such situations, they end up bearing the full brunt of this escape act of the domestic workers paying heavily in monetary terms and time spent in getting the worker to the Kingdom. For they do not get compensated for the money they spend on visas applications, ticket and residence permit issuance, while also the labor and time in getting the domestic help arrive.

What was, in early times, just an act of few has now swelled in numbers with many domestic workers, chasing the quick buck, know that they would be aided and abetted in their effort by community members. Moreover, a large number of families agree that domestic workers encourage one another to escape from the sponsor because they know they can get away with it, as there are no laws that punish expatriate workers who run away from their sponsors.

Dr. Latifah Al-Abdullatif, an associate professor of sociology, King Saud University, is one of the experts who carried out studies about the negative impact of domestic workers on families, and she even suggested solutions for this problem in her study. She recommended that concerned authorities, in charge of recruitment, should work with one another to draft laws ensuring full protection of Saudis whose expatriate workers run away.

The Saudi employer should be reimbursed for every amount of money he paid. The laws should require the runaway expatriate worker or their embassy to compensate the Saudi employer and pay him back all the money. Also, the Saudi employer should not be required to pay the expatriate worker’s travel tickets.

She recommended that a domestic worker should be aware right from the start that if he or she escapes, necessary legal procedures would be taken and the expatriate worker would be liable to pay back all the money borne by the Saudi employer for the domestic worker’s recruitment.

“Authorities should impose strict penalties on recruitment offices that violate pertinent laws and manipulate the system to make personal gains at the expense of Saudi employers.

Authorities need to keep a closer eye on recruitment offices, especially those which overcharge Saudi employers,” she said, adding that this too is part of the problem.

Because of the exorbitant recruitment prices, some Saudis use unlicensed overseas recruitment offices and end up being conned of their money, or if successful in getting a domestic worker ends up paying more than what the recruitment office would have charged.

Authorities have registered several cases where Saudis have been victims of fraud and deception practiced by unlicensed brokers. Al-Abdullatif also recommended that a domestic worker, who runs away from the sponsor, should never be allowed to enter the Saudi territory again as a deterrent for others.


In her study, Al-Abdullatif called for imposing fines and prison sentences on investors who abuse the system and urged embassies or consulates to take strict measures against their nationals who violate recruitment laws. The missions should also warn their nationals against the dire consequences of running away from the sponsor and urge them to resolve any dispute with the sponsor through legal channels.

Al-Abdullatif suggested that labor courts should be set up all over the country and run by highly-competent judges and legal consultants, who, in turn, should guarantee fair trial for both parties of the conflict.

She stressed the importance of setting up nurseries in all private and public organizations for working mothers so that the mothers do not find themselves in a situation where they have no choice but to leave their children in the custody and care of housemaids.

“Working mothers will feel their children are safer and more secure if they are put in nurseries near them. The nurseries will also protect children against the crimes that might be committed by some maids, let alone they will provide job opportunities for thousands of young women who continue to be jobless,” she said.

Al-Abdullatif also called upon authorities to closely monitor the remittances made by domestic workers and some workers were caught transferring a large amount of money that did not commensurate with their monthly salary.