Revealed: UAE labour ministry's 2015 worker report
CWO provides a rundown of Workers Welfare Report 2015, the first annual study published by the UAE's Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation
The UAE's labour authority, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE), has published its first annual report highlighting the state of labour rights in the country.
MOHRE's Workers Welfare Report 2015 focuses on measures to ensure that all workers that come to the UAE "are recruited and employed equitably, safe in their place of work, and free to advance professionally and personally".
The publication of this report is part of a drive to increase transparency about labour issues, improve data reporting, and ensure that discussion about the transnational labour mobility and economic development is frank and fair.
In a forward to the 2015 report, Saqr Ghobash, minister of human resources and Emiratisation, said: "The UAE’s workforce is our greatest asset: the driver for growth that enables economic diversification and secures the future for tomorrow’s generation.
"MOHRE is committed to ensuring our workforce is protected and its dynamism is harnessed for the good of all.
"Therefore the ministry has launched a series of initiatives and resolutions to promote workers' welfare in the country, most notably, standardising labour contracts in order to promote clarity and transparency for workers and employers," he added.
Next page: UAE's labour minister on what MOHRE's new laws mean for workers
MOHRE's newly-launched laws "enable workers to move freely between employers", Ghobash said.
The laws also offer options to "evaluate and review every aspect of working in the Emirates, from recruitment to housing", and make "significant reforms designed to ensure all workers are treated respectfully at all times, and able to report instances of maltreatment easily".
The minister said that MOHRE has appointed 63 legal professionals to help resolve labour disputes, and trained 100 members of staff to facilitate the process of dispute resolution.
The ministry has also implemented a smart inspection system to enable the inspectors focus their efforts on higher risk business establishments.
The protection of workers is fundamental to the ongoing work of MOHRE, the report stated, adding the ministry, in 2015, implemented significant steps to ensure worker protection, including reviewing legislation and regulatory oversight, improving dispute resolution systems, and increasing transparency.
"We can’t deny that many non-national workers have faced in the past many malpractices by recruitment agents," the report stated, according to WAM.
"Consequently, MOHRE has been cooperating with countries of origin to improve practices within the recruitment industry as a priority issue."
The ministry continues to closely monitor the practices of recruitment companies and take immediate actions when violations take place, the report added.
In 2015, the Ministry suspended the licences of recruitment agencies that violated recruitment practices.
Next page: Contract terms hold the key
Moving on to describe measures to enhance contract transparency, the report remarked that no employer in the UAE can engage workers against their will or on terms that do not meet the UAE labour standards.
All employment contracts in the UAE must be consensual by nature and both parties have the right to terminate an employment contract at any time, in accordance with the terms and provisions of the contract.
Under new standards, the ministry holds employers responsible for attesting in the standard contract to the fact that workers have not been charged any recruitment fees.
The ministry also launched a package of reforms designed to promote transparency regarding fixed-term and unlimited contracts.
Henceforth, no non-national worker can be recruited from overseas for employment in the UAE until he or she has been presented with a standard job offer that conforms to the UAE Standard Employment Contract (SEC).
The standard job offer is available in 11 languages and must be signed in the employee’s country of origin before his or her work permit can be processed.
MOHRE also works to ensure that all workers obtain a copy of UAE employment law without charge, so that they know their rights, the report stated.
The UAE has struck partnerships with international organisations, and works closely with the governments of labour sending countries to ensure that their citizens are protected while in the UAE.