The Dragon has several staff, but my main housemaid (who is from the subcontinent) works about 45 hrs a week. I gave her a 7% payrise this year, and she now earns 160 rials (about US$400) a month, plus free accomodation in her own room (with ensuite and independent access), holds her own passport, gets 4 weeks leave and flights home every year. If she works extra I will pay her overtime too. She got a Christmas bonus of have a month's salary.
This, I admit, is generous by Omani standards. I believe minimum wage for an Indian housemaid is supposed to be 75 rials/month (Indian because its based on a recent MOU between the Omani and Indian Governments), and possibly this could be further discounted to account for accomodation and food costs. Statutory minimum leave is 1 month every 2 years plus flights, and they should have 24hrs off every week.
From what I hear, it does seem that many maids working for Omani or Indian families work very long hours (6am - 10pm), 7 days a week, for about 60 rials a month. Many of the young Indonesian girls seem very sad and look
Don't get me wrong, I'm sure many Omani - especially what I'd describe as 'middle class' Omanis - treat their maids and houseboys very well and pay more than 60 rials for more usual hours. But many 'working class' Omani seem to often be more exploitative, with the hearsay reports of low pay, long hours, passports kept, and occasional abusive treatment.
Is having a maid exploitative? Well, yes and no. Unfortunately, there are vast numbers of unskilled, unemployed people in East Asia and the sub-continent, and conditions and wages for those employed in manual labour are really low. Its non-sensical to suggest that it would be better to not employ them at all here and thus sentence them to scrape a living in abject poverty.
The average wage in Sri Lanka for a textile worker, for example, is around $50 a month, although that is assuming they can find such work, as that is apparently seen as high compared to the $25/month in competing rag-trade countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia.
By employing my maid I indirectly support a whole extended family back in her home country, and provide enough money for her to save for a retirement in relative comfort. Kids get education and food. She is able to own a house and land.
Plus it means I can live a much better life, spending time doing nicer things than domestic chores. Being able to afford a maid is one of the reasons many expats like it here.
It's unfortunate too that European minimum wage and other restrictive laws means that few europeans have domestic staff (even though they would love to have one), and lots of workers who would willingly work as a maid can't do so.
So, what are readers paying their maids and for how many hours? (Facts please - lets try and minimise the expat/Oman baiting, shall we?)
And if anyone from the embassies can shed light on numbers of maids employed vs those who ascond, cases of abuse, etc etc, it would be great.