There are several options when it comes to getting a cleaner in Dubai, or any other of the Emirates of the UAE.
It is possible to have a live-in helper, commonly called a maid in this part of the world. There have been some well publicized instances of mistreatment here as in other countries that rely on domestic helpers, and some embassies have begun to take more interest in the welfare of their citizens. Hopefully, this has led to an improvement in the work conditions of maids in general.
The advantages of having a live-in helper are many. They are there each day doing the daily tasks, so your house will be spotlessly clean. Most maids take on cooking duties as well, but they also tend to need a good deal of guidance as they are likely to have little familiarity with the type of food western families eat.
Keep in mind that many of these maids come from very poverty-stricken backgrounds. They have not grown up with vacuum cleaners and automatic washing machines and may not recognize the cleaning products you prefer, let alone know how to use them. Clearly, you may be responsible for a good deal of training, initially, especially if your maid has newly arrived in the country.
If you are lucky, you may get an experienced maid. She will anticipate what needs doing and deal with issues before they become a problem. But, do not assume that even the most confident maid automatically knows how you want things done.
A live-in maid needs clear guidelines and expectations, a room of their own and a day off each week even if this is not mandated by the government. If the maid is well looked after, they are more likely to do their duties well. Also, keep in mind that this person is going to be in your house 24/7. You may not be used to this and struggle to adapt initially. However, many maids are keen to have time to themselves as well and will be happy to spend evenings in their rooms resting or watching TV when they are not needed.
Now we come to the tricky subject of child care. A maid is not a trained child-care specialist, is not a child behavior expert and realistically cannot take over all household tasks and raise the children. Yes, she can be there when the school bus drops the children off and give them a snack. She can keep an eye on them in the home until the parents return to help with homework. But there are limits.
Sponsoring a maid is a complicated business. They will have to have a health and fitness check. Also, as the employer, you have to prove that you have sufficient income to take on this responsibility. Some documents have to be translated into Arabic.
For these reasons, most people who take on a fulltime maid go to an agency. I am not able to recommend a particular agency, so it is a matter of contacting several until you find one that offers the level of professional service you require. It is likely to be more expensive than trying to arrange sponsorship yourself, but if time is money, it is the best option by far.
These days it is very easy to get part-time cleaners. The advantage with a part-time cleaner is that you have nothing to do with the sponsoring, housing or health care issues. This is all handled by the agency, but it is part of what you pay the agency.
Yes, it is possible to get a part-time cleaner without an agent. These cleaners usually come to you through word of mouth from other expats. In order to be here, they must have a visa and may be the wives of lower paid workers in the community. This type of arrangement can be very successful. But, remember, if something goes wrong, you have to sort it out.
So agencies are a good idea. They train the cleaners and explain the laws of the country to them, for example how to dress on the job. They also transport them to and from your house. As the cleaner may need to come to the house when you’re not there, they will need have to have a key to your house. Having an agency take responsibility for that key is reassuring. Also, because these cleaners go to multiple houses the agency will get reports from many households on their cleanliness, efficiency and reliability. This way you are much less likely to be a victim of theft.
Nevertheless, it is unwise to leave temptation in the way of a cleaner. These cleaners are only doing these jobs because they have come from difficult circumstances. They may well be vulnerable to temptation, even though they are generally honest and law abiding.
Some people have a preference in terms of which country the maid comes from, as there are maids from all the poorer countries in the area such as Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and some African countries, although the government of Ethiopia has placed restrictions due to allegations of maid abuse.
A lot of maids are from the Philippines. They usually speak good English and may even have a considerable amount of education. For a part-time maid of this caliber you can expect to pay a minimum of AED40 per hour in 2015. Also, some agencies only supply maids to certain areas of Dubai, such as Jumeirah.
Some people prefer a male cleaner and this is possible, and a lot of companies supply part-time cleaners for homes or commercial premises. Men seem to be preferred for commercial cleaning.
Environmental awareness is on the rise in the UAE and frequently expats want cleaners who are able to clean the house without reliance on harsh chemicals. As a result several companies have sprung up to cater for this demand. Some have even expanded into the dry-cleaning business as well
When it comes to selecting a cleaning agency, ask around. Also check some forums. You will get the advice of experienced people from the expats you meet. There are plenty of companies, so you can swap around if you are not satisfied.
Questions to Ask:
Does the company transport the cleaners to and from your house?
What are the housing and leave arrangements? A happy cleaner will do a better job.
Do the cleaners work alone or in pairs? Although working in pairs can seem like a good idea especially for the safety of the maids, my experience of it has not been good. It seems to encourage idling and taking risks i.e. inviting others into your house when you are not expected to be there. The exception to this is when an experienced cleaner brings along a new recruit for training purposes. However, make sure you will be told if this is going to happen.
How much notice do you have to give if you want to cancel for a day or a period of weeks?
Are there any penalties for canceling?
Are you covered if something goes missing from your hose while the cleaner is there? Some companies do have insurance but it will be a messy business. Most expats buy and use a safe for small precious items, even though crime is low here.
Can you request a replacement if you are not satisfied?
Do not sign a long-term contract with an untested agency. Good agencies look after their cleaners and keep their clients by proving exemplary service, not by binding them with contracts.