Health insurance to be compulsory for workers

Health insurance will be made compulsory for all construction workers in the UAE from 2008, according to the Minister of Labour, HE Ali Abdullah Al Kaabi.

Rules: UAE Minister of Labour Ali Abdullah Al Kaabi announced that health insurance will be compulsory for all construction workers.
Rules: UAE Minister of Labour Ali Abdullah Al Kaabi announced that health insurance will be compulsory for all construction workers.

Health insurance will be made compulsory for all construction workers in the UAE from 2008, according to the Minister of Labour, HE Ali Abdullah Al Kaabi.

The move follows a mandatory health insurance scheme that was introduced in Abu Dhabi in January this year.

Speaking to Construction Week, Al Kaabi said: "We have already made health insurance in Abu Dhabi compulsory and by next year it will be enforced in all other emirates."

Al Kaabi warned that from 1 January, any company that defaulted in salary payments to their workers would face a fine of US $2,700 (AED10,000) along with being degraded to category C.

In addition, he said that construction companies would have to remunerate their workers via electronic payment methods through banks or money exchanges.

"So far, there are 150,000 workers paid through this system. This helps us monitor who is falling back on payments. If a company does not put the money into the bank by a certain date a red flag appears on our system notifying us of the defaulters," he said.

In January, the Ministry of Labour (MOL) will host the fourth Ministerial Consultations on Overseas Employment and Contractual Labour for countries of origin in Asia.

Called the Colombo Process, the event will take place on 21/22 January in Abu Dhabi. The UAE will also host the second Gulf Forum on temporary contractual labour on 23/24 January.

Alex Zaiami, advisor to the minister, International Affairs said: "At this meeting we want to elevate the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) we already have with these countries to a binding agreement stating that their workers will return to their countries after they have served their contracts.

"We are also looking at elevating our bilateral agreements with these individual countries to a multilateral agreement between all these countries and all the GCC states as one."

Participating countries of origin are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

Participating countries of destination include the GCC and Yemen, Japan, Malaysia, Republic of Korea and Singapore.

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