A first-of-its-kind in the UAE, Crossfire will explore a range of contrasting views on some of the region’s key issues, tapping into some of the everyday conversations generating heated debate across the region’s offices and social platforms
A weekly show, the format will feature two speakers with opposing views on a key topic, with the debate running for around 20 minutes. The discussion will be moderated by ABTV’s Shruthi Nair, followed by an interactive Q&A session with the live in-studio audience.
The first episode, which aired on Wednesday, September 11, included Kamal Al Samarrai, CEO of Dawaam, an online recruitment platform and Luke Tapp, Partner at Pinsent Masons debating the merits of the UAE’s recruitment practices.
The recent amendments made in the DIFC employment law focused on anti-discrimination laws, widening its remit of provisions to include age, pregnancy and maternity. However, a number of firms across various sectors have criteria specifying a maximum age limit for a lot of its roles.
Will this then be illegal, as per the new amendments? “If the company is operating within the DIFC then there is a high risk that this would be unlawful... I need to note that if it was indirect discrimination and the company can justify it, then they are given that chance,” Tapp argued, pinpointing the loophole in the law.
Do you want to be an audience member at one of our upcoming show? Below is a selection of our upcoming debates. We film the series every Thursday. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on Crossfire, ABTV’s newest weekly debate show.
Emiratisation, and the demand-supply disparity, was another hot topic during the debate. According to the Talent Gap Report carried out by LinkedIn and TNS Research, 31 percent of Emiratis surveyed feel their jobs do not match their field of study or expertise and 38 percent believe their salary and benefits are less than their expectations.
To understand this, the concept of Emiratisation and its implementation in the region were discussed at length. According to Al Samarrai, nationalization policies, such as Emiratisation, Saudisation, Omanisation, send the “wrong message” to local nationals at an early age as it doesn’t encourage them to have the same motivations to get a job.
“I’m all for Emiratisation in government agencies, and it works. But Emiratisation in the private sector doesn’t. As a 2nd generation expat living here, you go to school with an Emirati, grow up together and enter the workforce together. All of a sudden, the Emirati knows he has an advantage over the expat who has been with him all the way. I think that in the early age is giving a wrong message to the young Emirati about how much effort they have to put in to," he said.
However, Tapp believes that the UAE’s nationalisation policies are better than that of the other GCC states as it doesn’t apply a blanket quota on all private firms. “In my view, the steps the authorities have taken in the last couple of years have been much more effective than just putting down quotas, which is what we see other jurisdictions in the Middle East do. In the past 12 months, we’ve seen article 14 of the labour law get implemented by the Ministry of Human Resources at the Emiratisation stage,” he explained.
“The private sector organisation might go to the authority for the visa, the authority may say here is a list of unemployed Emiratis we would like you to interview to see if they are an appropriate fit for the role before we give you the visa. What it does is it makes the private sector consider an Emirati for a particular role,” he added.
A recent survey by Glassdoor revealed that 35.8 days the average time taken from when a candidate submits an application to when a rejection or offer is made. This is much longer compared to the global average. Tapp said the time taken is absolutely justified in order to do due diligence and hire the right candidate.
“In the past it has so happened that a lot of clients who have paid for the visa and insurance and put a candidate in the role discover that the person was dismissed for misconduct in the previous role. They then have two issues: they have the risk of terminating the employee themselves and being subject to acclaim and secondly all of the costs they’ve incurred in letting this person go who was ultimately a bad candidate. If they took over a month to go through the references, have a couple of interviews and go through the references then they are not going to make the mistake,” he said.
Al Samarrai, on the other hand, thinks that the processes, especially internally, are excruciatingly long. “The average time from start to finish to get an employee is probably around 3 months. My issue is the number of interviews that happen and the time between them internally before they start going out and doing all the checks. You have to come and meet the HR manager and then in a week meet the line manager and a week later you meet the CEO. But I think this all stems from the cost of hiring the employer. So if it doesn’t go right, there’s not one person to blame,” he said.
Among the audience was a professor from Middlesex University who raised the controversial issue of unpaid internships. “A lot of our graduates who come out of our university get straight into internships. And those internships are free, 6 month spells with no guarantee of work afterwards, where they are even expected to sign a contract. Are there regulations in the DIFC that can protect our students?” Stephen King asked.
“The Dubai creative clusters authority introduced a students working visa and that gives students the liberty to intern or pick up part time work and actually be paid for while studying. So there is some regulation around it but it isn’t fully regulated across the whole of the UAE,” Tapp answered.For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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