NOCs may push skilled workers out of market

The requirement for a No Objection Certificate (NOC) by an employee wishing to change companies in the UAE is forcing many construction professionals to look for work in less restricted and more open markets, according to industry experts.

No Objection Certificates discourage poaching
No Objection Certificates discourage poaching

The requirement for a No Objection Certificate (NOC) by an employee wishing to change companies in the UAE is forcing many construction professionals to look for work in less restricted and more open markets, according to industry experts. Many construction companies have started to take advantage of the new requirement by refusing to issue NOCs to employees wishing to change jobs in a bid to retain them.

Speaking to Construction Week, Ani Ray, country head, Simplex Infrastructure said: "Companies have begun to refuse NOCs to employees wishing to leave and join a new company which, coupled with the announcement last week that people working on visit visas will be banned for life, has made movement within the industry impossible and could then lead to possible stagnation."

Previously, many companies employed staff on visit visas if they had a six-month 'ban' and later transferred them onto employment visas once the ban period was over.

But with the latest crackdown, professionals are shying away from working on visit visas due to fear of being banned for good, nor can they change jobs because their companies are refusing to give them NOCs.

Ray added that this has begun to discourage professionals from working in the UAE market and is forcing them to look for jobs in other booming economies in the region and outside including Qatar, India and China.

"My QAQC manager resigned out of fear of being penalised as he was working on a visit visa while waiting for his ban to finish," said a contractor, who wished to remain anonymous. "His previous company has refused to give him an NOC and now he's looking for work in freer markets."

But Paul Kelly, assistant to the GCC manager at construction recruitment firm, Hill McGlynn said: "The money spent on bringing staff into the country is by no mean negligible, so I think that companies are well within their right to hold on to their employees," he said.

"Also, in my experience, if an employee has valid reasons to leave, the companies do provide NOCs without any problems. Movement in the industry would be restricted, but that isn't always a bad thing."

The new ministerial decision that has been approved by the minister of labour, Ali bin Abdullah Al Ka'abi, will come into effect from 1 October 2007, and includes a lifetime ban on any person working in the UAE on a visit or transit visa.

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