No six-month work ban from January 1, 2011

Expatriate workers can move to new employment without no-objection certificate if they have served out two-year contract

The Ministry of Labour has issued regulations allowing workers who finish their contracts to obtain new work permits without undergoing the six-month work ban, and allowing them to move to other firms without the employer's approval from January 1, 2011.

A worker with an expired contract can obtain a new work permit and shift to another employer without the passing of the currently legitimate six-month period and consent of his sponsor, according to the new resolution issued by the Minister of Labour Saqr Gobash.

The new regulations on conditions and criteria of issuing new work permit for a worker after the expiry of his service contract and transfer of sponsorship will take effect as of January 1, 2011 in implementation of the cabinet resolution No 25 of 2010 regarding internal work permit at the Ministry of Labour.

Once operational, the new regulations will replace the current formalities of transfer of sponsorship for expatriate workers.

The resolution says that the new employment permit will only be granted to the worker after the end of his work relationship with his employer without consideration of the legitimate six month period which is usually calculated after the cancellation of the worker's labour card.

But it stipulates two must-do conditions. firstly, the two contracting parties must have ended their work relationship cordially and secondly, the worker should have worked with his employer for two years at least- the duration of the new labour card which will be issued by early January.

The resolution defines two cases where the worker can obtain the new work permit after the end of the contractual relationship without the agreement of the two contracting parties.

First, when the employer fails to honour his legally or contractual obligations. Second, in the condition of expiry of work relationship where the worker takes no responsibility such a complaint filed by the worker against his firm.

In this case, an inspection report should prove that the firm is out of business for more than two months and that the worker should have reported to the ministry.

The labour dispute should have been referred by the ministry to the court provided that the court hands out a final verdict ordering the employer to pay to the worker salaries of two months at least, compensation for the arbitrary sacking or terminating the contract prematurely, or any other rights.

The resolution also defines three cases where the worker shall have the right to get a work permit without fulfilling the condition of working two years at least with the employer.

Firstly, when joining his new job, the worker should be classified in the first, second or third professional class and that his new salary should not be less than Dh12,000, Dh7,000 and Dh5000 in the first, second and third class respectively.

Secondly, non-compliance of the employer with legal, labour obligations towards the worker or in the case where the worker has no role in terminating the work relationship.

Thirdly, shifting of the worker to another firm the employer owns it or has stakes in it.

Minister of Labour Saqr Gobash said the new measures aim to infuse broader flexibility in the labour market and strike a balance in the contractual relationship 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 explained, affirming the ministry's determination to guarantee rights of both parties legally as we live in the State of law and institutions.

"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.

He indicated the new measures were subject to dialogue and consultation with local stakeholders in implementation of directives of the wise leadership for crafting policies and legislations that fit well into the developments in labour market and curb any malpractices.

"The new regulations constitutes key elements of labour reforms which part of them have already executed and the other parts will be in place in the near future," he said.

These measures, he said, were expected to play a major role in advancing efforts towards creating an efficient labour market and sharpening competitiveness and transformation towards a knowledge-drive economy.

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