Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Your Guide in Working in UAE

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) issued guidelines for foreign workers who wish to work here to protect their rights and at the same time understand their responsibilities.

This guide should be read and understood to avoid misunderstanding between the worker and employer. The MOLSA believes that this guide would help both parties to have a harmonious relationship.

General Directives
The General Directives brought out by the UAE Labor Law is beneficial to both worker and employer, thus, the Ministry advise all concern to abide the following principles:

  • Be punctual with the working schedule.
  • Do not fail to come to work without a prior permission or acceptable reason.
  • Abide by the orders of your client.
  • Do not mess with the machines and equipments at work.
  • Don’t assault your chief or direct-in-charge neither by act or say.
  • Do not feign illness and do not neglect the health and work and safety instruction.
  • Do not abscond from work whatever the circumstances.
  • Do not fail to come to work at the end of your annual leave or any other leaves.
  • Should you have any other grievance, try to solve it amicably with the concerned parties at your company.
  • Should you fail to solve any grievance at your company you have to put the issue up to the Concerned Labor Department and you should follow their advice to settle same.
  • As you enter the UAE, make sure that your employer has obtained your Labor Card from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

Work Permits, Employment Contract and Labour Cards

Work Permits
Working in foreign land requires you to be properly documented to avoid any unpleasant circumstances. It’s a must that one should secure a proper working document such as working permit and not a tourist of visit visa in working overseas.

Work permits should be sponsored by the company licensed and registered at the Ministry of Labour. This should be issued with specific terms to foreign workers who are:

  • between 18 to 60 years old;
  • professional and academic qualifications useful to the UAE;
  • hold a passport with six months validity; and
  • medically fit and not suffering from any illness.

Employment Contract
Employment contract is the strongest weapon of foreign workers. Workers who’ll arrive at UAE must possess a copy of the employment contract, certified by the Labor Department, with the company who hired them throughout the contract term.

Employment contract states the start and duration, salary, place, term, and type. It should be made in three copies; for foreign worker, employer and the Labor Department. It is very important that the workers read and understand everything written in the employment contract carefully. Do not hesitate to ask the Labor Department or any authorize person if you do not understand something.

The Labour Cards
The labour cards must be provided by the employer within 60 days upon the arrival of the worker and it has three years validity. It should be carried by the worker everytime they move around the UAE.

If the employer failed to provide labour card for the foreign worker, former would be liable for the penalty. If this happens, workers should inform the Labour Department to take the actions against the employer.

The labour card can be renewed within 60 days from the date of expiry upon the consent of both employer and worker. If the card expires, it can only be renewed if the employer was able to justify to the Ministry, fines should charge with the employer too.

Working Hours, Overtime and Leaves
If the employer wishes to increase or decrease the number of working hours, it should be approved by MOLSA depending upon the nature of work. The following working hours, overtime and leaves are approved by the Ministry:

  • Eight hours per day or 48 hours workweek
  • During Ramadan, two hours will be cut on the ordinary working hours
  • Since Friday is the weekend for all workers, except for per day manpower, if they are required to work in this day between 9p.m and 4a.m 50% will be added to his salary, another rest day or receive basic salary plus at least 50% of the said salary.
  • Overtime should not exceed two hours except in cases of major force.
  • Annual leave for each year of service:
    *For six months and less than a year contract, workers are entitled for two days leave for each month.
    *For contracts exceeded one year, workers are entitled for 30 days leave.
    *Sick leave should not exceed 90 consecutive or alternate days. During the first 15 days of his leave, he will receive a full pay, next 30 days; half pay and no pay for the following periods. This should be granted for workers who have spent three months of continuous service after the probationary period.
    *They are also granted for other leaves such as:
    -10 days of official holidays
    -Hajj leave – without pay and should not exceed 30 days
    -Maternity leave – 45 days against a full pay including the day before and after delivery

Compensation for Work Injuries and Professional Diseases
The employers are responsible to shoulder the expenses in treating the workers’ injury or professional disease. It includes hospitalization, surgeries, X-rays, medical examinations, medicines, donation of the organs, artificial devices, transportation expenses during the treatment, and should also give his compensation.

If the injury prevents the worker to return to his job, the employer should also provide him with financial aid equal to his salary during the whole period of treatment or within six months whichever is shorter. If the treatment exceeded in three months, the assistance will be reduced into half, for another six months or until the worker heals or causes his incapacity to work or death which ever is shorter.

If work injuries or professional disease causes his death, the employer should give the worker’s family with compensation equal to his basic salary between AED 18,000 (about Php 245,500) or US$ 4,900) to AED 35,000 (about Php 477,500 or US$ 9,529) within 24 months.

The above statement does not apply if the investigation found out that the worker has intentionally caused the injury to himself due to suicidal attempt, to obtain compensation/sick leave, under the influence of alcohol or drug, violation of safety rules at the work premises.

Labor Disputes
Labor disputes may be individual, relating to one worker or collective when there is a dispute between the employer and workers about a mutual inters of all the workers or a special team. Any misunderstanding between the worker and the employer should be settled harmoniously. If they failed to do so, it should be brought up to the competent Labor Department.

Termination of Labor Contract
The employment contract can only be terminated if both the employer and workers agreed to do so and a written consent of the worker is presented. The employers have the right to terminate the emp0loyment contract without prior notice if the worker submitted fake documents and adopts false identity or nationality.

Other grounds to terminate the contract are as follows:

  • Workers who commit error causing material loss to the employer, unless the incident was reported the within 48 hours.
  • Failure to abide by the safety instructions posted at the premises of the work place.
  • Failure to perform duties written in the contract and keep on repeating the same mistakes.
  • Drunk or under the influence of drugs during working hours.
  • Commits assault on the employer, manager and colleagues.
  • Absent without lawful excuse for more than twenty intermittent days or for more than seven successive days during one year.

End of Service Benefits
Workers who have completed one year or more in the continuous service are entitled to the end of service benefit. The end of service benefit is not given to workers who leave their work without notice and to workers who have a contract under unlimited period who leave their work, unless his service exceeds five years.

The benefit is computed as follows:

  • Twenty one days pay for each year of the first five years in the service.
  • Thirty days pay for each additional year provided that the entire total benefit shall not exceed to years pay.
  • On the basis of the last salary of the worker, allowances are not included.
  • If the worker left his work in not less than a year of not more than three years, he is entitled to two third of the end service gratuity.

Transfer of Sponsorship
The foreign worker cannot transfer the sponsorship from another employer he works for to another employer, except if the following conditions are fulfilled:

1. Classified under the following categories:

-Doctors, pharmacists and nurses
-Universities and higher college teachers
-Experts, legal consultants, economists, financial and management staff, who hold university degrees
-Computer/information system analysts and programmers who hold university degrees in these field
-Specialists and technician in the field of oil and gas exploration and other related fields.
-Athletes coaches for different sports.
-Specialist in sea and air navigation
-Other categories subject to Ministry approval.

2. Conditions for Sponsorship transfer approval
-Foreign worker shall not work with the new sponsor who has the same industry as his previous sponsor.
-Foreign worker should hold a valid residence visa stamped in his passport.
-Foreign worker should have completed at least two years of service in his former employer.
-Foreign worker should obtain approval of the visa transfer from the sponsor after completing two years.
-No UAE or GCC citizen, who is registered as job applicant with the competent is available to occupy the job, subject matter of the visa transfer.

It is must foreign workers should make arrangements to leave the country after the end of the employment contract, otherwise, he will be considered as illegal alien. Employers must be responsible for the cancellation of the work permit and repatriation of the foreign worker from his native country or other place according to their agreement.

The employer will shoulder the expenses of the worker in his repatriation. If in case the worker signed another contract with another employer, subsequent to the determination of the former employer, the latter would be the one responsible to bear the expenses of the workers repatriation.

Employer should not be held liable for the repatriation expenses of the foreign worker only if the termination of the employment contract can be blamed to worker. The worker will shoulder the expenses if he has sufficient means.

In case of death, employers are responsible to bear the repatriation expenses of the worker’s coffin.

“Basic information about the UAE”
United Arab Emirates Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA)

This article was first published in www.ofwguide.com on December 30, 2006

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