Uganda has banned housemaids from seeking work in Saudi Arabia after accusations of poor working conditions and ill-treatment of workers emerged.

The two countries signed a recruitment agreement last year to send Ugandan university graduates to Saudi Arabia, in an arrangement to curb unemployment. The deal stipulated that domestic workers would receive a monthly minimum wage of $200, health insurance, an eight-hour working day, a return air ticket, decent accommodation and identity cards.

The arrangement also offered the opportunity for private drivers, shop keepers and security guards to seek employment in the oil-rich kingdom.

Domestic workers are a vulnerable class of employees Photo: thesouthafrican

Domestic workers are a vulnerable class of employees Photo: thesouthafrican

According to Reuters, Uganda’s Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Welfare received reports of workers being inhumanely treated by their employers in Saudi Arabia, thereby imposing the ban, which will remain in-place until the working conditions in Saudi Arabia are “deemed fitting”.

Saudi Arabia has been heavily criticised by human rights group such as the Human Rights Watch for its treatment of foreign domestic workers.

In Saudi Arabia, domestic workers generally have fair terms of employment, but the working conditions have been reported as deplorable, with reports that employers take advantage and abuse the vulnerable class of employees, particularly from Africa and Asia.

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation