Friday, May 26, 2006

One labor market for all :: Khaleej Times

I am pleased to see that the kinds of changes to UAE labor law that I have advocated are getting a public airing by a Ministry of Labour official. The Khaleej Times report suggests to me that the benefits of unifying the government rules for local and foreign labor are well understood.

Humaid al Dimas, Assistant Secretary at the ministry:
“There should not be two types of labour markets; one for nationals that is governed by certain terms and attitudes, and another for expatriates. Countries should unify all terms and merge the two types into one labour market that is open for all, and its terms are complied with and accepted by both nationals and expatriates. Such equality will help safeguard the welfare of all — nationals, expatriates, and employers, and subsequently a healthy labour market will be open for all,” he argued.

“Usually, sponsors prefer the foreign labour force since they cannot switch jobs without their consent and accordingly employers can dictate their conditions, work environment, and contract terms on them without having any fear that those workers may leave,” he said.
The Khaleej Times report continues:
Actually, the ministry noted such an attitude of some employers when has imposed on companies beginning of last January the employment of nationals in PRO profession.
In many cases, the fears of employers that a national can turn down the job at anytime were expressed. As well, in some cases those fears were proved very right, he observed.

The situation prompted the ministry to tie up the practices of nationals PROs with conditions similar to that stated in the labour law and governs expatriate labour force. The Ministry decided to make these nationals to sign a labour contract and subject them to the labour law terms which states the need to give a three-month notice before leaving the job in case of a limited contract and one-month notice in case of unlimited contract, he said.

“National PROs will not be able to walk off the time they want,” he stressed adding, “The welfare of employers should be maintained and this will help to encouraging them to give jobs to nationals.”

Regarding if the ministry will take a similar move to that of Bahrain, Bin Dimas noted that the status of the Labour market in the UAE differs than that of Bahrain. In the UAE if this was allowed, a big mess will happen in the labour market.
I'd like more clarification on what that "big mess" would be.
It is also significant that it is recognized that some regulations of the government can be abused by employers:
However, the UAE Labour Ministry does not allow and does not accept if rules and laws, which aim to control the relationship between employers and workers, to be misused and played as 'swords on worker’s necks. [missing close quote?]

Recognising such practices of some employers the ministry has introduced a number of decisions during the last few years that all of them are in line with the ministry’s attitude to lift any probable exploitation and provide justice to workers, he said.

The Minister Dr Ali Abdullah Al Kaabi, has introduced a number of decisions that all fall in maintaining and safeguarding the welfare of expatriate workers by taking away some powers, which when were misused, affected the welfare of workers, he said.
See also this article about "absconding workers" for more on the thinking of Humaid al Dimas.



Blogger Dubai Entrepreneur said...

Sadly, as a business-owner, I find the labor laws worse for the employer than they are for the employee. As far as I can see, an employer is stuck with an employee more than an employee is stuck with an employer.

I know how expensive it is to get someone new, so I keep the incompetent ones around for as long as possible, affecting productivity and efficiency.

It also puts me in a position where I am very reluctant to process residency for new employees until I am fully satisfied with their performance (takes about 3+ months to make that call in most cases).

This means that the brilliant labor laws are:

1. Making it difficult for me to hire competent employees.
2. Forcing me to break the law due to its idiocy
3. Forcing me to keep the incompetent employees for longer than I want them to be

Tell me, Dr. Al Kaabi, what brilliant new laws do we have to make it work for both employer and employee?

8:55 PM  
Blogger John B. Chilton said...

No disagreement.

Let's acknowledge that employment matching here is always going to be more difficult given the distances involved. As long as there is great reliance on imported labor there will be difficulty assessing the job and the job candidates. So there will be scope for both sides to take advantage of what they know that they other does not.

3:03 PM  

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