It would for this reason be convenient if this medical test could already be undergone in the country of origin. In this case, the worker would not lose all the money that has to be paid to the recruiting agent in his/her country. The employer is legally obliged to bear all the costs related to the foreign worker.
However, not all female domestic helpers find jobs through recruitment agents. Some of them came to Bahrain through relatives or friends working in the country. For the worker, this is a cheaper option, since they only pay a small fee to the person who assisted them or nothing at all. Also a considerable number of sponsors use this method to avoid paying high fees to agents. However, this method is not always in the interest of the sponsor or the worker: The sponsor cannot request replacement if he/she is not content with the performance of the worker and the domestic worker has to accept the working environment she is in, without having the possibility to make use of the three-month probation period during which, theoretically speaking, she has the right to ask for change of sponsor.
The majority of workers from the Philippines come through accredited recruiting agents, while in the case of the Sri Lankan domestic workers, this is not always the case. The Sri Lankan government obliges its nationals to have health insurance before departing to work overseas. The insurance policy covers the worker's deportation to Sri Lanka in case of death, illness or accident. It also covers hospitalisation while working abroad and up to 60 days medical treatment after returning to his/her home country.
According to the standard agreement between the recruiting agent in Bahrain and the sponsor, there is a three-month probation period for new domestic workers, during which both the worker and the sponsor can terminate the work contract. Theoretically speaking, the worker can refuse to work in the house of her new sponsor if the latter treats her badly or if any member of the sponsor's family sexually or physically abuses her. In this case, the agent should find her a new employer. During the research it became clear that in such cases the agent provides the sponsor with another house worker or force the women domestic workers to continue working with their sponsors under any conditions. Also the sponsor her/himself has the possibility to contact the agent and ask for a replacement of the domestic worker in the specified period of time. In this case, too, the agent is obliged to assign another household worker or return any fees he paid. It should be noted that governments or embassies of labour exporting countries have no contact with the domestic workers nor do they have any input in the above-mentioned contractual arrangements. What is surprising in this process is that the employer that abuses a domestic worker or treats her badly does not end up on a black list. Furthermore, the agent is not refusing his services in order to protect the women recruited through his agency.
The probation period for Indonesian house workers is six months as a result of the Indonesian government's intervention to ban its nationals from working as domestic helpers in the Gulf, except Saudi Arabia, following reports of physical and sexual abuse. In the case of Bahrain, the ban was lifted only a year ago. Wages are determined according to the nationality of female domestic helpers instead of their experience. Although the nature of work and the workload is almost the same for all house workers, Filipinos, for example, and Indonesians with some years of experience get BD 50 per month, while inexperienced Indonesians, Sri Lankans and Indians get BD 40 per month. Domestic workers from Bangladesh get the lowest salaries, BD.35 per month.
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