New measures to protect Indian expat workers

India proposes to set up an emigration authority to oversee matters concerning the movement of workers. (EB FILE)

The compulsory registration of overseas employers with a newly created emigration authority is one of a number of measures being considered by the Indian Government to assist citizens moving abroad to work.

The creation of a migration attractiveness index for countries in the GCC and elsewhere to help Indian migrant workers select the best destination is also under consideration.

A sample index created by a consultancy firm for the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs gave the UAE a ranking of 2.2 out of a possible three, ahead of other Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia, which scored 1.97.

Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi has announced that foreign employers in certain countries will have to register in India under a new emigration law, which will replace an outdated law dating from 1984.

Under the proposed legislation, an emigration authority would be set up to oversee all matters concerning the movement of workers, mainly to countries in the Gulf and Malaysia.

"Foreign employers from notified countries will have to register with the authority," said Ravi.

Sanjay Verma, Indian Consul General in Dubai, said: "The plan to make registration mandatory for overseas employers is under consideration and will have a positive impact on UAE companies recruiting Indian workers.

"All major UAE employers currently use the attestation facilities at the Indian Embassy or Indian Consulate and we are trying to fine-tune the system. There is a proposal to do the registration online."

Verma said he could not elaborate on the new registration requirements as the matter was being handled by the ministry.

A source at the Indian Council of Overseas Employment said there was a plan to start a migration attractiveness index on a scale of zero to three to guide migrant workers who are considering moving to a Gulf country or Malaysia. The index would be updated biennially.

The source told Emirates Business that the plan, along with many other recommendations to improve the welfare of Indian workers in the GCC, was currently being worked on. Countries rated three would be the most attractive and those scoring zero would be the least.

"Location-wise, the UAE is one of the best place to migrate to as it is close to India and has multiple direct flights," said the source. "The UAE fared relatively well in the sample index in terms of social, political and economic factors.

However, it scored poorly on the professional front due to the lack of employment mobility, limited opportunities for professional growth and a poor working environment.

"The index will guide Indian migrant workers as they select an employer in a particular GCC country based on economic and professional opportunities, the politico-legal framework and the socio-cultural environment.

"The index is an attempt to make a comparison based on a set of vocational, social, economic, professional and political factors and identify the countries that migrant workers would or would not like to migrate to."

The economic factors that will help to shape the index include the cost of living in the host country, savings and remittance potential, real economic growth rate, per capita income, income disparity, remittance costs and exchange rates, economic stability, etc.


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