- The Ministry of Labour has introduced five new work permits. These concern work transfers, temporary work, part-time work, sponsored kinship work and juvenile persons work.
- Greater flexibility has been provided to employers wishing to hire employees on a part-time basis.
- The procedures for applying for and issuing these internal work permits have yet to be released from the MOL, however we do know that these permits cannot be renewed as new applications must be submitted by the worker and re-assessed by the MOL.
In the highly regulated terrain of the UAE, all visas,
irrespective of their type, are granted subject to a list of
stringent conditions. For most employees chasing the expat dream,
this means that their residence visas are often tied to their
sponsored work permits and their professional movements are
Five new work permits
Cabinet Resolution No. 25 of 2010 concerning Internal Work Permits Applicable in the Ministry of Labour introduced five new categories of internal work permits.
1. Worker Transfer Permit
This permit applies to non-UAE nationals already working with a Ministry of Labour (MOL) registered organisation and who transfer to another MOL registered organisation.
Ministerial Resolution No. (1186) of 2010 on the Rules and Conditions of Granting a New Work Permit to an Employee provides that once the labour relation has been terminated, the MOL is enabled to issue a permit to an employee which allows them to move to another employer without the application of the six month ban.
Practically, this allows for the immediate transfer of sponsorship provided that the termination was: one, consensual; and two, that the employee had spent at least two years of service with the first employer.
There are four exceptions to the consensual termination requirement above: i) the employer has breached any of its legal or contractual obligations; ii) the employee has filed a complaint with the MOL due to the establishment's closure; iii) the employee has filed a labour claim with the Dubai Courts; or iv) the employer's unilateral termination or non-renewal of employment.
The necessity that the employee must have spent at least two years with his previous employer to avoid the six month ban is avoided if: i) the employee joins the first skill level earning at least AED12,000, the second skill level earning at least AED7,000 or the third skill level earning at least AED5,000; ii) the employer is in violation of its legal obligations towards the employee or the employee is not the cause of the termination; and finally iii) the employee moves to an establishment which is owned by the first employer or if the employer is a shareholder in that establishment.
2. Temporary Work Permit
This permit is intended for those who are to be engaged on a project or job function for a period of no more than six months.
Recognising the need for flexibility in the UAE labour market, this permit allows those who need to enter and work in the UAE for a short periods of time without the undue burden of obtaining a two year labour card and leaving after only having used one quarter of its entitlement and then facing repercussions should the employee wish to transfer to a another employer.
3. Part-Time Work Permit
This permit has been created for those engaged in employment with working hours which are less than the normal full-time working hours of other employees in the same job.
According to the MOL, this new part-time permit allows those who are already in full-time employment to take up a second part-time job. This is a huge step away from the previously strictly regulated work permit which tied you to your sponsor, and in most cases, your sole and only legal employer.
4. Work Permit for Personnel Sponsored by their Kinship
This permit is issued to those who are currently dependent and take up employment with an MOL registered organisation.
Essentially the practical effect of this means that those with labour cards are now able to sponsor their dependents, much like their own employers do for them. This allows dependants such as housewives to have options and greater flexibility in terms of their employment movements, as they will not be tied to their jobs, but to their sponsorship, which is tangential from their spouse rather than their employer. Of course, this does not permit them to start their own businesses without the necessary relevant authorisations and trade licences.
5. Juvenile Persons Work Permit
This permit is specific to those between the ages of 15-18 who take up employment.
This is further governed by Ministerial Resolution No. (1189) of 2010 concerning the Regulations and Conditions of Issuing Work Permits to Minors. As expected, the conditions espoused in this Resolution provide that the minor's custodian must approve the minor's employment; the minor will be restricted from performing any dangerous or difficult jobs as defined in the Resolution; the minor will not be allowed to work at night (from 8pm to 6 am); and the minor will only be permitted to work a maximum of six hours a day.
Liberalisation of part-time employment
Ministerial Resolution No. (1188) of 2010 regarding the Regulations and Conditions of Issuing Internal Work Permits followed from the Cabinet Resolution No. 25 2010 to flesh out the MOL's intention behind the liberalisation of part-time employment in the UAE.
It provides that a temporary work permit or part-time work permit may be issued to four categories of people:
- Resident employees in full-time employment who hold valid MOL labour cards. Such employees will require the approval of their main employer before being provided with a part-time permit to work after hours. This requirement of pre-approval is waived if the employee has filed a labour action with the Dubai Courts.
- Co-dependent sponsored residents (i.e. housewives and the occasional stay at home dad).
- Students who are above the age of 18.
- Government servants.
Interestingly, the Ministerial Resolution allows the MOL to issue part-time permits to employees enabling them to work for more than one establishment at any one given time. Furthermore, part-time workers are entitled to all the labour rights as enshrined in the UAE Labour Law.
The procedures for applying for and issuing these internal work permits have yet to be released from the MOL, however we do know that these permits cannot be renewed as new applications must be submitted by the worker and re-assessed by the MOL.
Although labour reforms have been released over the past few months, their cumulative effect may mean easier passage into, between and to new employers in the UAE. This benefits the UAE's workforce as it allows expat workers already on the ground to fill up job vacancies more seamlessly; also, this attracts additional expats to the region, who may previously have been weary of the previous sponsorship system. It remains to be seen how these reforms will affect the UAE labour market.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.