UAE’s ministry of labour has announced that it has extended the grace period for firms to settle unpaid fines, which they have accumulated through labour card offences, state news agency WAM reported.
All private firms in the UAE will now have an additional six months to settle their labour card dues, which will be reduced to Dhs1,000 each for a card, a senior official said.
The grace period will also cover the electronic card applications that were not issued or renewed till the end of December, the ministry explained.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Assistant Secretary of the Ministry of Labour Affairs Humaid bin Dimas Al Suwaidi said that currently the total labour fines have reached Dhs2.85 billion in the UAE. This figure is expected to fall to Dhs100 by the end of the grace period, he added.
Al Suwaidi said that about 95,000 fines were issued for non-renewal of workers’ cards. Meanwhile, another 5,000 penalties were charged for not applying for a labour card despite the employee starting work, not cancelling the work permits or reporting those missing from duty.
He added that one of the largest fines for a single labour card amounted to Dhs53,000 while some firms have raked up millions in unpaid dues.
“Now that large fines have been reduced to only Dhs1,000, it is an opportunity for all employers and business owners to settle those fines and remove any sorts of restrictions in their records at the ministry,” Al Suwaidi was quoted as saying in local media.
The ministry also warned that offenders during the grace period will be barred from obtaining any new labour permits unless they settle the unpaid fines.
After the grace period, all firms will also be required to pay an additional Dhs500 for every month of delay in settling the labour card penalties, Al Suwaidi said.
In addition, the ministry announced that it will charge all firms a fine of Dhs500 from January 4, 2015 if they do not provide an employment contract within 60 days of the employee entering the country.
Al Suwaidi said that this decision represents the keenness of the UAE to protect workers’ rights and ensure a stable relationship between employer and employee with full transparency.
All companies operating in the UAE are required to apply for electronic employment contracts within 60 days of a worker joining the company. Failure to do so would result in a fine of Dhs1,000 per month, as per current ministry rules.
Employers can apply for electronic labour cards and contracts through Tas’heel service centres across the UAE or within their companies if they are registered under Tas’heel.