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Tue 11 Dec 2018 11:11 AM

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Abu Dhabi to provide financial support to unpaid workers caught in legal disputes

A 'happiness card' given to low-income workers was launched after prosecutors saw 10,000 labour disputes with firms over unpaid wages

Abu Dhabi to provide financial support to unpaid workers caught in legal disputes
Last year, prosecutors saw approximately 10,000 labour disputes, excluding 6,000 group cases, where companies have collapsed or employers had run away, leaving labourers earning less than AED3,000 a month with no wages.

Abu Dhabi will provide low-income workers, who have not received their salaries on time, with a ‘happiness card’ that will pay for food, transport, legal guidance and other costs until problems with their companies are resolved.

The move by the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department aims to provide labourers whose wages are withheld, with financial support and legal counsel, reported The National.

The card, which will be available in the next few months, will be granted by a judge to eligible workers for use until their cases are resolved.

Last year, prosecutors saw approximately 10,000 labour disputes, excluding 6,000 group cases, where companies have collapsed or employers had run away, leaving labourers earning less than AED3,000 a month with no wages.

The number of cases, however, was down 40% compared to 2016, when as many as 16,897 cases were brought before the Abu Dhabi courts. The drop in cases is largely due to government awareness campaigns which led to increased legal knowledge among labourers.

The capital’s judicial department is also working with the Department of Transport and hospitals to include costs in the card.

While labour disputes are generally settled at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, unresolved cases are sent to the court for a judicial decision.

The ‘happiness card’ is one in a series of initiatives aimed at better resolving disputes between companies and labours.

In 2016, the UAE updated the Wage Protection System to allow authorities to cancel work permits and shut down operations for companies which were 10 days late in paying wages. Following 60 days of failure to pay the wages, companies are also fined up at AED5,000 for each unpaid employee.

Authorities have urged employees to report their companies, should they fail to pay wages, at the Labour Ministry or one of the 15 TawafQ service centres in Abu Dhabi.