By Edward Attwood
UAE labour ruling removes six-month work ban and non-objection letter for most expats
A new UAE law will make it easier for many workers to switch jobs without the consent of their sponsor from the beginning of next year.
The resolution, issued by UAE Minister of Labour Saqr Gobash, allows expatriates with expired contracts to obtain a new work permit without the letter of no objection from their employer, and without the six-month work ban.
The resolution says that a new permit will be granted to the employee if the “contracting parties have ended their relationship cordially” and that the worker should have worked for his employer for two years.
However, if the employer fails to honour legal or contractual obligations to the employer, or when the company is proved to have gone out of business for two months, the worker will also be allowed to switch jobs without the letter.
Gobash said that the new law was aimed at striking a better balance between the employer and worker.
''The Ministry will only interfere in the employer-worker contractual relationship if it detects infringement in obligations stated in the labour contract,'' he said.
''Giving the private sector more freedom of movement will have automatic impact on employers by the way of preserving their interests through creating many options for recruiting skillful workers as per the supply-demand equation.”
The change is part of a package of plans recently announced by the Ministry of Labour.
Earlier this month, the ministry announced that labour card validity will be reduced from three years to two years for all UAE private sector workers from January next year. The move will have a knock-on effect on residence visas, which will also be reduced to two years.
The ministry will also require private-sector firms to have no less than 15 percent Emiratis on their workforce.
We congratulate the authorities for this move.
Another idea from magic hat to go more deep in to recession or shall I say re-recession.Whosoever is making new policy is not considering the employer side to run or sustain in the business.
Less population now, indirect taxes & many other high cost of operating business will easily diver business people to Qatar or such other neighboring countries.
This not a balance at all for employee - employer.
Allow employer to draft their own contracts & see the difference.
Does this apply to all expat workers or as usual there are endless exceptions and fine prints that will favour the employer?
So, what has really changed? The way I see it, there has not been any significant change. The catch phrase here is â€œcontracting parties have ended their relationship cordiallyâ€, which can be extremely abusive. Well, what do I know?!
Better late than never. UAE has a lot of catching up to make in terms of real, non-oil productivity. Private companies profited without innovating. Innovating can come only from an aggressive work force that moves from one job to another, like most other successful economies in the world. It will also score points on the human rights and employee rights front.
But as usual, so many conditions - I dont know for what. If I am a business owner and if a worker wants to leave me after just 4 months, I would say let him go after refunding my expenses. Labour dept should simplify the law like this.
Pradeep, you still get to control the worker for a whole two years before he can leave. If you can't get enough value out of him in that time to cover recruitment & visa costs, you probably shouldn't have hired him in the first place. Remember that the flipside is that although it will be easier for employees to move to new jobs, you will also find it easier to recruit new employees in the local market.
Good employers will not be affected by this rule. Only bad employers who provide a poor work environment, or who until now have exploited the NOC rule to keep salaries below market rates will suffer - and they deserve to.
I wish it was one year only to give the market more flexibility and competition. Otherwise Qatar's 2022 will pull the professionals from UAE market.
What about us business owners who have had some employees for years and now they are allowed to leave easily without a NOB Letter and they join your competitors with all your trade secrets?
Is there a law to prohibit an employee to work for a competition after resigning?What chaos will happen if employees just left for another job without your consent?
Maroun, this is something that businesses in virtually every other country in the world somehow manage to deal with without the need for laws to restrict individuals' rights to decide freely who they want to work for.
Besides, how many workers are there here who have access to genuine trade secrets and actually want to move to a direct competitor of the business they are currently working for? It's probably less than one percent. The rest of the time employers have been abusing this rule to keep hold of their employees without giving them pay rises or to avoid having to recruit replacements.
Quite why any business would want to hold on to any employee that doesn't want to work there any more is beyond me, the damage that can be done to your brand by demoralised employees far exceeds any cost savings you might make by holding onto them.
Maroun: This happens all over the world, employees leave to join competitors and businesses continue to thrive and suceed. Only in the middle East do you find this attitude of business owners who want to ban employees from joining competition. What will a banker do? He has to join competition. An advertising professional, will join a competitor. An engineer will have to join to a competitor who will require his specialized knowledge. I think you need to think of ways how to retain your employees and not punish them, especially as you said, they have worked with you for years. So you have gained from their skills and expertise. No one works for companies until they retire, that is the reality of the current economic situation.
You can recruit new employees who will bring in new ideas which will only benefit your business. Think positive and you will continue to grow.