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Parliament has set the minimum wage for Ethiopian domestic workers employed in Jordan at USD 275 a month after taxes. It will apply to more than 20,000 Ethiopian domestic workers in the Middle Eastern country, whose demand for domestic labor has surged over the last two years.

The minimum wage is subject to a yearly increase, while a joint committee composed of representatives from the Ethiopian and Jordanian governments will be formed to conduct the periodic wage increments.

Parliament also approved a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Ethiopian government and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan during a session this week. The MoU does not include details pertaining to monthly salaries for other Ethiopians employed in Jordan, but sets a 48 hour limit on workweeks, with up to eight hours of work a day.

Labor experts criticize the minimum wage for being lower than pay offered to domestic workers in other Middle Eastern countries.

A number of Middle Eastern nations reopened doors to Ethiopian domestic workers a year ago, and the government has since embarked on formalizing and legalizing the sizable workforce looking to flock to the Arabian Peninsula.

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Parliament’s ratification of the MoU complements government ambitions to send half a million domestic workers to the Arab world – a plan that kicked off last year.

Led by Muferiat Kamil, the Ministry of Labor and Skill has designated several Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutes to serve as training centers for domestic workers before they are certified to work in the Middle East.

The Ethiopian government has also pledged to cover air tickets for the domestic workers, who are mandated to receive their salaries in registered bank accounts once they begin working in the Middle East.

An ILO Labor Force Migration Survey from 2021 reveals there are nearly 300,000 Ethiopian domestic workers employed in the Middle East, but the numbers have seen a substantial decrease in the years since owing to conflict, unemployment and challenges at home.

The government wants to raise the figures to capture and formalize the significant remittance inflow that has typically been tied to informal channels.

“The agreement is necessitated as a substantially large number of Ethiopians work in Jordan and the government of Ethiopia has to ensure the rights of those Ethiopian domestic workers in Jordan,” reads the MoU document.

It notes high demand for Ethiopian domestic workers in Jordan, which it says have been “exposed to harsh human trafficking network smugglers, as well as abuses.”

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