Employers twist rules to their advantage

DUBAI - Rules introduced by the authorities to safeguard the rights of expatriate manpower are being twisted by employers to serve their own purposes, thus leading, in some cases, to more exploitation of the workers rather than protecting and preserving their interests.

By Sanaa Maadad

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Wed 11 Feb 2004, 12:02 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:40 PM

One of the forms of exploitation which emerged recently as an example of violating the regulations and bending them to their advantages, is that of sponsors forcing their workers to pay the amount of the bank guarantee which the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs asks companies to furnish when they recruit a new expatriate employee, in accordance with a UAE Cabinet Order.

These practices, among others, were revealed by labour inspectors at a seminar organised by the ministry on Monday to refresh the information of 30 inspectors already working with the ministry and familiarise another 12 newly appointed inspectors with the nature of their job and the tasks assigned to them, as well as the labour regulations governing their work.

Youssuf Jaafar, labour expert with the ministry, has conducted the two-day seminar, which ended on Tuesday. Speaking to Khaleej Times, he said that that the labour inspectors came across several cases where employers failed to fulfil their obligations towards their workers, and burdened them with the expenses of their labour transactions, including forcing them to pay the Dh3,000 bank guarantee.

Under the Cabinet Order No 21 for 2003, big firms employing above 1,000 workers have to deposit a lumpsum of Dh500,000 covering their existing workers, in addition to an extra amount of Dh3,000 for each new employee they recruit.

The medium firms sponsoring between 101 and 1,000 workers have to pay a lump sum of Dh 300,000 in addition to Dh3,000 for each new recruit, while small firms have to furnish Dh3,000 for each of their workers.

Earlier, some companies used to change their trade licences in which they listed activities exempted from furnishing bank guarantee for their employee, as a means to avoid the payment of the guarantee, as disclosed earlier by Dr Khalid Al Khazraji, the ministry's Undersecretary for Labour Affairs.

According to Mr Jaafar, the ministry has specified the obligations of employers in a ministerial order issued in 1989. "Article 6 of the Ministerial Order No 52 of 1989 clearly prevents employers from charging their employees the expenses incurred in recruiting them, such as the fee for their employment visa and the labour card fee, among others," he said, stressing that the bank guarantee rule was introduced to protect workers and not overburden them with their employers' financial obligations.

He said that the inspectors who took part in the seminar, were briefed about their duties and responsibility in ensuring through the regular inspection of the companies, that the provisions of the Labour Law No 8 of 1980 are met and the various other labour regulations are being strictly followed, particularly those concerning the protection of workers' rights and their safety at the workplace.

Night inspections may be reactivated

Inspectors at the seminar were familiarised with the regulations concerning the employment of women and juveniles and their work at night and the relevant international conventions to which the UAE is a signatory.

In this context, Mr Jaafar admitted that the ministry was not conducting night inspection, although the law gave inspectors the authority to inspect establishments at any time of the day or the night.

"The ministry intends to activate the night inspection to ensure that establishments are adhering to the regulations banning the work of women at night, which means nine continuous hours stretching from 10 pm and 7am, except in professions detailed in the law, as well as respecting the rules on recruitment of minors aged less than 15, observing the specified working hours for them, and refraining from making them work at night and overtime," the labour expert said.

Inspectors were asked to focus on checking the labour contracts and the salary records and how to prove whether companies were paying the salaries or not, since the majority of the labour disputes solved by the ministry pertain to the non-payment of salaries, which in turn leads to increasing cases of labour strikes.

More news from