The majority of domestic workers in Qatar make about QR1,571 ($431) a month, according to a new survey by an online recruitment firm.
That’s on par with Saudi Arabia and more than in Kuwait. But household staff make marginally more in the UAE – AED1,592 ($433) a month.
The HelperChoice Domestic Worker Salary Survey Middle East 2016 was released this week.
To calculate its figures, HelperChoice used data from around 2,000 recent job advertisements in the region that were placed on its website.
The averages reflect starting salaries. They do not include other costs usually shouldered by employers, including agency fees, flights home and medical expenses.
Still, in Qatar, a QR1,500 monthly salary equates to about QR8 ($2) an hour, assuming someone is working eight-hour days, six days a week.
The reality though is that many of the country’s more than 84,000 household employees work longer hours.
According to a report published by a government ministry earlier this year, domestic staff in Qatar work longer hours than most people here and are among the poorest paid in the country.
Using 2014 data, the Ministry of Development, Planning and Statistics (MDPS) found that household staff worked an average of 57 hours each week.
That was compared to 40 hours for government bureaucrats, teachers and healthcare workers.
The MDPS added that the average monthly salary for a cook, nanny or cleaner was around QR2,742 – much more than the figure cited by HelperChoice.
However, the ministry did not state if this figure included costs such as medical and travel expenses.
Elsewhere, HelperChoice found that domestic workers in Kuwait, which recently set a minimum wage for house help, earn less than their Gulf peers, at about $388 (KD1,117) a month.
But domestic staff there are now entitled to basic rights. That includes a 12-hour work day, a weekly day off, 30 days’ paid annual leave and end-of-service benefits.
Meanwhile, in Qatar and some other Gulf states, household workers continue to have no protection under the labor law.
Human rights groups have called this problematic because it leaves those working as maids, nannies, cleaners, cooks and gardeners open to exploitation.
They’ve found that complaints about long hours, low pay, no holidays and restrictions on movement are relatively common.
For years, GCC countries talked about implementing a unified contract for domestic workers, but this was abandoned last January.
Still, “the average pay offered to domestic workers was surprisingly similar between the states,” HelperChoice founder Laurence Fauchon said in a statement.
She added that base salaries were usually determined by a worker’s home country.