Feb 14, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government has received the go-ahead from the Cabinet of ministers to sign the agreement with Saudi Arabia to protect the rights and safeguard the welfare of migrant domestic workers.
Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia last month signed a memorandum of understanding for the protection of Sri Lankan domestic workers employed in the Kingdom and the Saudi government has given its concurrence to a draft Agreement to be entered into between the two governments.
According to the Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Ministry, currently about 500,000 Sri Lankans are employed in the Kingdom and 60 percent of them are female domestic workers.
The Kingdom has signed similar agreements that have a protection mechanism for the migrant workers with India and the Philippines last month.
The agreement with Sri Lanka is very similar in content to the agreement entered between Saudi Arabia and the Philippines.
According to the new agreement between the two governments, the domestic worker is not required to pay for recruitment.
The sponsors cannot hold the employees' passports and the domestic workers are not required to surrender their passports to the employer. The passport is to be in the custody of the domestic worker.
Also, the employers are required to open a bank account for the domestic worker and deposit the salary monthly in that account instead of the usual practice of paying the salaries in cash. The Pass Book of the bank account should be in the custody of the domestic worker.
Under the agreement at the end of a period of two years of service, the workers are entitled to a 30 days paid vacation in Sri Lanka. If the domestic worker is returning to the same employer an additional one month's salary should be paid to the worker.
Although Sri Lanka has been sending domestic workers to Saudi Arabia for the past 25 years, this is the first time a deal was reached with the Saudi Kingdom to safeguard the rights of the domestic worker.
Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Dilan Perera has put forward the proposal to the cabinet to enter into the Agreement with Saudi Arabia.