How Mohre's decision to resolve disputes of Dh50,000 or less will benefit UAE residents

A lawyer explains accessibility and efficiency of dispute resolution mechanisms

by

Angel Tesorero

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Published: Tue 19 Dec 2023, 4:12 PM

Last updated: Tue 19 Dec 2023, 10:48 PM

Employees are now more empowered to pursue legal actions against erring employers, with the recent amendment to the powers of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (Mohre). The ministry will now directly resolve cases involving Dh50,000 or less.

This was the assessment by labour rights expert Barney Almazar, who is also the director of corporate-commercial department at Gulf Law. He told Khaleej Times: “The recent amendment to the powers of Mohre is a progressive legislation that marks a significant step towards fostering social justice in the workplace."

“This empowers individuals who may have been otherwise dissuaded from pursuing legitimate claims due to the costs and lengthy time associated with formal court proceedings,” he underscored.

Barney Almazar
Barney Almazar

As reported by Khaleej Times on Monday, Mohre will resolve disputes amounting to Dh50,000 or less, involving companies and workers in the private sector, as well as domestic workers, and domestic worker recruitment agencies.

The new process will take effect from January 1, 2024. We have broken down how this will benefit the residents.

Save time and effort

In a nutshell, the new process will save time and effort; streamline procedures, and expedite the procedure for claimants to collect their legal entitlements. It will also apply to disputes related to non-commitment to amicable settlement decisions previously resolved by Mohre regardless of the claimed amount.

Almazar noted: “Labour laws – at their core – are instruments of social justice. They aim to establish a fair and equitable relationship between employers and employees, recognising the inherent power imbalance tilted in favour of the employers.”

“In reality, however, the employers have an inherent advantage as legal processes for resolving labour disputes tend to be complex, time-consuming, and financially burdensome – placing employees with limited resources at a disadvantage as compared to their employers who can afford full legal representation,” he added.

“The recent amendment ensures fair treatment for employees who may lack the resources often available only to their employers,” Almazar, who provides legal aid at the Philippine missions in the UAE, said.

Ensure accessibility and efficiency

Right now, prior to the amendment, Mohre has no power to issue a decision. Unresolved matters, regardless of amount in question, are endorsed to the courts for a formal hearing and decision—a process that is favourable to employers as they can simply downplay the mediation at Mohre, since employees are less likely to pursue their claims before a judge.

As Almazar noted, “even though labour cases are exempt from court fees, almost 50 per cent of the cases referred by Mohre to the courts are abandoned by employees.”

This will be remedied, he added, noting: “As a legal practitioner for almost two decades, I can say that this new law will certainly address a longstanding concern in the realm of employment law – the accessibility and efficiency of dispute resolution mechanisms.”

Who will benefit most?

Lengthy legal battles disproportionately affect employees, disrupting their lives and livelihoods, not to mention the stress of looking for a new job while a case is on trial. The provision allowing claims up to Dh50,000 to be decided by Mohre is highly commendable, Almazar underscored, explaining: “The claims of low- to middle-income workers generally fall within this threshold that provides them with a more accessible avenue for seeking redress.”

“A swift resolution mechanism ensures that justice is not delayed, contributing to the overall well-being of the workforce,” he underlined.

How it works

The new amendments allow either party in a dispute to file a lawsuit before the Court of Appeals within 15 working days of being notified of the Ministry’s decision to resolve the dispute. The court then schedules a hearing within three working days.

The Ministry will continue with its usual procedures, working to find amicable settlements for disputes exceeding Dh50,000, and referring cases where an amicable settlement could not be reached to the relevant court for resolution, within a maximum of 15 working days from the date of referral.

What’s next?

Almazar said: “As Mohre will embark on a new role, I hope that they will have a competent team that will hear cases in an unbiased manner, similar to what litigants (complainants) can expect before the courts. It is a big transition from mediation to issuing orders and decisions.”

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