GMA News Online
Pinoy Abroad

Immigration laws, work environment in UAE

April 6, 2007 3:34pm
Skilled workers, including professional, medical and semi-skilled workers who are in the private sector are protected and adequately covered by Federal Law No. 8 otherwise known as the “law Regulating Labor Relations and its Amendments."

Number of working hours required is 8 hours/day or 48 hours/week, except for hotel workers who are required to work 9 hours a day. Overtime work is paid at 150% per hour computed from the monthly basic salary.

OFWs employed in government institutions, mostly nurses and medical workers, are covered by civil service laws and received and receive better benefits than those in the private sector.

Unskilled workers, mostly domestic helpers, are not covered by labor laws, which add to their vulnerability to abuse and maltreatment. DHs are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Immigration.

Companies either provide housing in company-owned, leased or rented villas or buildings, or living quarters allowance whereby the worker looks for and rents his/her own place, usually on a “sharing" basis with other OFWs or expatriate workers.

Salaries are paid monthly. Delay/failure to receive salary on time gives the worker the option to wait or to file immediately a case against an employer at the Office of Labor Disputes, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

While UAE is an open and liberal country, prospects of imprisonment or detention await offenders under UAE laws. Among the Emirates, Dubai is the most liberal as it seeks to be the cosmopolitan and regional hub for trade, tourism, investments and information technology in the Middle East. On the other hand, Sharjah Emirate adheres strictly to Shariah law and alcoholic drinks are forbidden even in the hotels of the Emirate.

Under the new regulations, any company that fails to renew within 60-day grace period the expired labor card of an employee will be barred from employing additional foreign staff.

A sponsor of a company that has closed down will not be allowed to sponsor fro another company to take additional foreign staff.

The age ceiling for issuing labor permits has been raised from 60 to 66 years old in 10 job categories: engineers, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, account auditors, lawyers, electronic machine operators, laboratory technicians, sports coaches, employees of private petroleum companies, journalists and media practitioners, and consultants in all fields of work.

Unskilled and semi-skilled workers entering UAE for work must present a medical certificate declaring them free from infectious and communicable diseases. Domestic helpers, cooks, drivers baby sitters, gardeners, farmers and other workers in this category, who are brought into the country directly through UAE Immigration must submit medical certificates attested by the UAE embassy in their parents on residence visa.

Dubai Immigration has likewise allowed expatriates to sponsor a son, who is over 18 years old, on residence visa. The residence visa is valid for one year until the son finds a job or enrolls in a local university. Residence visa for daughters could be extended until they get married.

Under a new regulation issued in September 2002, expatriates can cancel their labor cards without having to pay cancellation fee of UAE Dirhams 100. Likewise, companies can change the work permit of an expatriate worker provided they hire a worker of the same nationality as replacement.

Source: Be A Smarter Pinoy Abroad, Smart Pinoy Publishing, 2006
Go to comments