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One-fifth of jobs to go to Emiratis

Anwar Ahmad (With inputs from Wam) / 28 December 2010

ABU DHABI - In a move that is likely to drastically change the labour market scenario in the country, the Ministry of Labour (MoL) said all companies have to employ at least 20 per cent Emiratis of their total number of staff.

Announcing details of the new decision at a seminar at the Armed Forces Club in Abu Dhabi on Monday, Humaid bin Deemas Al Suwaidi, Assistant Under-Secretary at the MoL, said the new policy will come into effect from Jan 1.

Al Suwaidi  said the ministry intends to guarantee the rights of both parties — employee and employer and ensure a balance in their relations for creating a sound labour market and ensure Emiratis participate in it.

Al Suwaidi said the decision of classification of establishments aims to improve the current classification, which is based on three categories A, B and C. It refers to multiculturalism and diversity of experiences among expats and strengthening Emirati participation in the job sector.

He said in the first category, wages for citizens and residents would not be less than Dh12,000 if the worker is in the prescribed skill level and for the second category Dh7,000 with Dh5,000 slotted for the third category.

Currently, private companies in some sectors are obliged to employ a certain number of Emiratis. For instance, a law issued in 1996 requires that four per cent of banking sector employees be Emirati. The law also stipulated that this percentage should increase by four per cent every year, up to 48 per cent. On average, however, Emiratis make up just four per cent of the private sector workforce, compared to 52 per cent in the public sector.

Labour card fines

The ministry also announced details of labour card issue and fines connected with it, at the gathering attended by businessmen and government officials.

MoL’s decision on fines will pave the way for settling fines of delayed labour cards which expire by the end of the year where an employer can avail the cabinet resolution No. 27 of 2010 to make substantial savings on his accumulated fines.

The settlement covers labour cards and work mission cards which expire before December 31. The employer can pay a maximum of Dh5,000 against all duration before Jan 2011 with a maximum Dh1,000 for failing to issue or renew these cards which were overdue from Dec 31 or Dh4,000 for not issuing or renewing labour cards or work mission cards which were overdue from Jan 1, 2006 to Dec 31 this year. As of Jan 1, 2011, the fine for not issuing or renewing the labour card will be Dh1,000 per month. Failing to issue or renew work mission card will entail a fine of Dh100 per day.

Saqr Ghobash, Minister of Labour, said the new resolution aims at encouraging employers to clear their accumulated fines.

The relaxation of the fine system follows a series of labour measures aimed at regulating the local labour market.

Gobash urged those who had accumulated fines to seize this opportunity to come clean.

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