Saudi recruitment offices have decided not to accept any new applications to recruit housemaids from Monday.
The decision came in protest against an article in the unified contract, which requires them to pay a fine equal to about 30 percent of the value of the contract in case the arrival of a housemaid is delayed beyond 90 days.
Industry sources said the insistence by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development on the application of the contract would raise the cost of recruiting housemaids.
The sources said the recruitment offices in labor-exporting countries would not commit themselves to the Saudi conditions and might not honor the 90-day time limit, as they would not face any penalties or fine for the delay.
They said the recruitment bill had already started going up, adding that in the past two weeks the prices rose by about SR2,000 from SR21,000-SR22,000 to SR23,000-SR25,000.
The sources said the cost of recruiting housemaids from Uganda went up from SR7,500 to about SR10,000.
They said the offices abroad would determine the cost of recruitment and added that many local recruitment offices would not be able to meet the financial commitments stipulated in the unified contract.
The ministry, on the other hand, said it was not willing to review the terms of the contract until after its actual application when it would study the pros and cons.
The offices also object to two other items in the contract, which require them to arrange accommodation for the housemaids and to receive them on arrival at the Saudi airports.