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Over 6,000 domestic helpers rectify legal status
By Hani Hazaimeh - Feb 04,2013 - Last updated at Feb 04,2013
AMMAN — The labour ministry on Monday said only 6,500 domestic helpers rectified their legal status during a two-month grace period that started in early December.
Labour Ministry Secretary General Hamada Abu Nijmeh said nearly 6,000 of these helpers had already returned to their countries, calling on all domestic helpers to make use of the grace period before it expires on Wednesday.
On December 6 last year, the 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.
In early January, the grace period was extended for another month.
“The government prolonged the one-month grace period for an additional month as demanded by all stakeholders in order to give domestic helpers more time to abide by the law. They have no excuse now and we will not hesitate to enforce the law,” Abu Nijmeh said.
“There will be no extension of the grace period once it is over. Ministry inspectors will take legal action against those found in violation of the law,” he added.
Abu Nijmeh urged employers, recruitment agencies and embassies of countries whose citizens work as domestic helpers in the Kingdom not to lose the opportunity of using the grace period to rectify the workers’ status.
In December, the Philippine embassy had asked the government for additional time to enable more domestic helpers with expired work and residency permits to rectify their legal status.
Mario Antonio, officer in charge and welfare officer at the embassy, told The Jordan Times at the time that many Philippine workers were unable to take advantage of the exemption because recruitment agents were demanding as much as JD4,000 in return for their passports.
During a meeting on December 12 between embassy officials, Philippine workers, representatives of the Domestic Helpers Recruitment Agencies Association and the labour ministry, the association promised to instruct member agencies to release the workers’ passports without payment, according to Antonio.
Around 40,000 women from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Indonesia are working legally as domestic helpers in the country, while nearly 39,000 others are living in the Kingdom with expired work permits and residency visas, according to the Ministry of Labour’s end-of-year statistics for 2012.
The Philippine embassy on Thursday called on the government to extend the one-month exemption from fines it announced last week to allow domestic helpers with expired work and residency permits to rectify their legal status.
Many domestic workers from the Philippines with legal status problems have so far been unable to benefit from a government exemption on fines for overstayed visas and expired work permits, an officer at their embassy said on Thursday.
Tamkeen for Legal Aid and Human Rights has urged the Labour Ministry to ease procedures for guest workers to rectify their status.
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