Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Confusion over insurance policy for Lankan maids

Even as the Sri Lankan government's landmark insurance policy aimed at protecting the rights of housemaids took effect in the UAE on Sunday, several recruitment agents approached the Sri Lankan consulate in Dubai on Monday and expressed concern over its implementation.

Consulate officials, on the other hand, have promised to look into the matter and "iron out" any issues.

Lankan authorities signed an agreement with the Oman Insurance Company to provide insurance cover to housemaids in the UAE.

Angry agents gathered on Monday morning and alleged that the Sri Lankan diplomatic missions in the UAE had not made any efforts to disseminate information among the sponsors, be they nationals or expatriates.

In a written petition to the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment, about 15 agencies expressed fear that instead of the sponsor, they would have to shell out the Dh200 annual premium for the compulsory "life and personal accident insurance."

"If sponsors aren't informed of the new policy, then we would be compelled to pay the insurance premium. The missions must coordinate with the UAE government and other authorities concerned to raise awareness about the new policy, insisting that the costs must be borne by the local sponsor," said an agent based in Ajman.

They also wanted the insurance to cover travel costs of housemaids returning home within three months of their arrival in the UAE.

Khaleej Times had reported in July that the new cover to enhance protection and social security of the island nation's domestic sector workers overseas, would come into effect by mid-August in the UAE.

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