The Federal National Council (FNC) — the UAE’s parliamentary body — has approved extending the duration of work permits from two years to three. This came after an FNC committee recommended the move to reduce the financial costs associated with obtaining work permits.
Currently, work permits in the UAE are issued for two years. The document is issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. It is illegal for a person to work in the country without a valid permit.
A report submitted by the FNC Committee on Financial, Economic and Industrial Affairs suggested that the duration be increased to three years. It also proposed other recommendations, including waiver of work permit fees for job change. Another recommendation that the FNC approved was that workers must spend at least a year with an employer after the probation period. However, this requirement can be waived if the employer agrees.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation told the FNC that it conducted over 72,000 inspection visits across the country this year. These include 2,300 related to suspected cases of bogus Emiratisation. About 430 cases were identified, with some referred to the public prosecution.
In January 2023, the MoHRE had referred 20 firms to public prosecution for violating Emiratisation policies last year. The Public Prosecution had also ordered the imprisonment of the owner and manager of a private company for duping 296 Emiratis. The accused took money from the Emiratis, who were trainees, as part of the Nafis programme.
A federal law makes it mandatory for private sector firms to increase the number of Emiratis in the workforce. At the end of last year, firms with 50 employees or more were required to hire at least 2 per cent Emiratis in skilled roles. This year, by June 30, companies have to increase this by 1 per cent. By the end of the year, they need to have 4 per cent Emiratis in skilled roles.
During the FNC meeting last week, Abdulrahman Al Awar, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, highlighted three key policies that protect employers from risks:
— Worker protection insurance system: Employers are mandated to provide insurance coverage to protect workers in the event of company insolvency or the inability to pay dues. Over 96 per cent of registered workers are currently covered under this scheme.
— Wage protection system: It ensures timely and secure payment of employee salaries. This system requires companies and establishments to fulfil wage obligations through authorised financial institutions.
— Unemployment insurance: More than 2 million people, including 40,000 Emiratis, have subscribed to the unemployment insurance scheme. Eligible workers in the UAE have to subscribe to the scheme before June 30 to avoid penalties. It’s an ultra-low-cost security net that protects workers if they lose their jobs.
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