The United Arab Emirates said it is focussed on protecting workers’ rights in the country from the time they are employed to ensure “equality” for its workforce.
A new report has been published by the ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation entitled Workers Welfare Report 2015 to boost transparency about labour issues, official news agency WAM reported.
The report highlights new measures taken to ensure that all workers who come to the UAE “are recruited and employed equitably, safe in their place of work and free to advance professionally and personally”.
Writing in the report minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation Saqr Ghobash Saeed Ghobash said: “The UAE’s workforce is our greatest asset, the driver for growth that enables economic diversification and secures the future for tomorrow’s generation.
“The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation is committed to ensuring our workforce is protected and its dynamism is harnessed for the good of all.
“Therefore the ministry has launched a series of initiatives and resolutions to promote workers’ welfare in the country, most notably, standardising labour contracts in order to promote clarity and transparency for workers and employers,” he added.
The ministry has also launched new laws that will enable workers to move freely between employers, and evaluate and review every aspect of working in the Emirates from recruitment to housing.
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The new laws also enforce reforms to “ensure all workers are treated respectfully at all times, and are able to report instances of maltreatment easily,” he said.
Ghobash said the ministry has appointed 63 legal professionals to help resolve labour disputes and trained 100 staff members to facilitate the process of dispute resolution.
The ministry has also implemented a new, ‘smart inspection’ system to prompt inspectors to focus their efforts on higher risk business establishments.
“We can’t deny that many non-national workers have faced in the past many malpractices by recruitment agents,” the report said.
“Consequently, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has been cooperating with countries of origin to improve practices within the recruitment industry as a priority issue.”
The ministry said it is closely monitoring the practices of recruitment companies and last year the ministry also suspended the licences of violating agencies.
Currently, no expatriate worker can be recruited from overseas for employment in the UAE until he or she has been presented with a standard job offer that conforms to the new UAE Standard Employment Contract.
The standard contract is available in 11 languages and must be signed in the employee’s country of origin before his or her work permit can be processed.
Employers also cannot engage workers against their will or on terms that do not meet the country’s labour standards.
All employment contracts in the UAE must be consensual by nature and both parties have the right to terminate the contract at any time.
The ministry also now holds employers responsible for attesting in the contract the fact that workers have not been charged any recruitment fees.
The report added that the ministry was working with governments of labour-exporting countries to ensure that their citizens are protected while in the UAE.
For any problems, workers are also encouraged to visit any of the five labour offices in the UAE including two in Abu Dhabi, two in Dubai and one in Sharjah.