Monday, December 24, 2012

Kuwait Travel Ban and Ministry Information Online

E Governance is the New  Hassle Free Way 

Kuwait Government E Portal

Kuwait Ministry of Interior 

Kuwait Ministry of Interior

Travel Ban 

Violations Inquiry

Cases Filed Against You

Arrest Warrants 

Electricity and Water Bill

Phone Bill

Electronic government, also known as e-government, has fundamentally transformed the internal workings of public administrations and the manner in which they interact with their populace. Nowhere is this more evident than in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), where, little constrained by financial imperatives, rulers have wholeheartedly embraced this innovative way of conducting the day-to-day business of government, driving forward ambitious e-government projects. It comes as no surprise, then, that as of 2010 three  of the six GCC states – Bahrain (ranked at 13), the United Arab Emirates (UAE) (49) and  Kuwait (50) – rank amongst the 50 top performers on the United Nations (UN) e-government  development index (United Nations 2010: 114–15).
e-government is here defined in the broadest possible sense as ‘the use of technology to enhance the access to and delivery of government services to benefit citizens, business partners and employees’, Multidimensional in scope, e-government thus refers to the following sets of interrelationships based on information and communications technology (ICT): government to government (G2G), government to employees (G2E), government to citizens (G2C) and government to business (G2B).
To date, the most common form of e-government is internet-based, as is evident in the rapid spread and ever-growing sophistication of government websites across the globe. Yet e-government, as  understood today, is not only limited to the internet, but also includes a variety of non-web-based ICTs for interaction and transaction purposes, such as telephony and short message  service (SMS) text messaging, mobile computing, and other types of audio and video  transmissions.
Disaggregating e-government to its component units, the paper  seeks to compare and contrast the functionality and maturity of e-services provided on  individual ministry websites and the Kuwait Government Online (KGO) portal, which was  established in 2008 to provide a ‘one-stop’ centre for G2C and G2B communications. Since the inception of its e-government project in 2000, the Kuwaiti authorities have made significant strides in the provision of online information and services for citizens, residents, businesses and foreign visitors. This is most apparent in the country’s impressive rise through  the ranks of the UN’s global e-government development index, from rank 90 out of 183 listed  countries in 2003 to the top 50 only seven years later. The KGO portal apart, as of 2011  virtually all government ministries and most other government agencies are present online,  offering a host of information and basic online services to its users, with some even  facilitating payment transactions. These developments are mirrored by year-on-year growth in internet user rates (which presently stand at almost 40 per cent of the total population) and a steady growth in online traffic on the KGO portal, all of which are promising signs that ICT literacy is on the rise, and that more and more Kuwaiti citizens are equipped with the necessary skills to interact with government online.
Five Strategic Points & Six Programs being implemented.  In order to direct these aspects in line with the project's vision, the Action Plan set for the five strategic points, and six programs. 
The five strategic points are as follows:
* Re-invent the government under a digital economy: A better way needs to be found to make the public sector aware of the effect of information and communications technology (ICT) in making feasible decisions that will be useful to governmental services.
* Providing integrated electronic services: Citizens should be able to have access to more electronically developed governmental services at all times and all places. The public sector should encourage the creation of an electronic society under the digital economy through the provision integrated electronic services directed towards clients.
* Initiative and response: The public sector adopted the model of sensing and response in dealing with the new tendencies. Services and systems should be accomplished with the speed of the Internet, and they should be continuously improved as a response to clients’ needs and remarks.
* Using ICT to build new capabilities: The public sector should go beyond the utilization of ICT as systems. It should be creative and adopt operational procedures that will totally transform and radically re-engineer the methods adopted in finalizing matters. ICT provides great opportunities from the cooperative power of knowledge management, and prompt knowledge provision, and the procedural ability to accomplish more transactions.
* Creativity with ICT: The public sector should go beyond ICT testing and its utilization.
The new technology should be tried for the sake of learning and developing its capabilities. In addition, the project management and supply method should be flexible enough to avoid the utilization of old technology.
Six Programs
The six programs that were launched to achieve the strategic points stated in the Plan are  as follows:
1. Knowledgeable Work Environment: Eliminating the digital illiteracy in the private sector, so as to benefit from ICT capabilities in developing work, accomplishing services, and performing team work.
2. Accomplish Services- Electronically All the services ready to be provided electronically, or making use of electronic channels to develop them should be reengineered within this framework.
3. Technology Testing-This would improve abilities in the hasty adoption of new tendencies in the field of ICT, which will help reduce the possibility involvement in major investments due to poor decision- making.
4. Development of Operational Efficiency: Modern equipment and word processors are considered the backbone needed for efficiency and efficacy in the public sector.
5. Flexible and Strong Infrastructure: The convergence among the sectors of ICT, and transmission paved the way to establish a reduced -cost governmental network. The existence of a well-designed infrastructure that could be relied on and be subject to expanded, is considered vital in supporting e-government initiatives.
6. Professional training in the field of ICT: Such training is not limited to training on  systems and applications only, but goes beyond this to the development of work  procedures and service accomplishment.
Kuwait’s e-Government launch is fairly new in comparison with other nations; however is taking shape quickly and being noticed and welcomed by citizens & expatriates alike.   Kuwait still has some ways to go to meet the standards set by some leading nations; however the start is fairly a good one with the joint cooperation with Singapore which is  a leader in e-government.  It is now left up to those government agencies and ministries in Kuwait to retain the progress made and train and recruit qualified employees to develop the e-government further to meet all challenges.  

Kuwait Government e portal
Kuwait e Portal
Travel Ban
Violations Inquiry
Cases Filed Against You
Arrest warrants
Electricity and Water Bill
Phone Bill

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Immigration to Canada under Skilled Category

Federal Skilled Trades Class launch next month

3,000 applications will be accepted under the programme in 2013

Canada's Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, announced the launch of the long-awaited Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC).

The launch of the long-awaited Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC) will be on January, 2, 2013, announced Canada's Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Mr. Jason Kenney.

A total of 3,000 applications will be accepted under the program in 2013.

The programme was only recently introduced by the Canadian government as part of the three-pronged approach, which added the new programme to the already existing Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

The FSTC program will allow qualified and experienced trades people to immigrate to Canada, based on the following set of criteria:

Ability to work in one of the trades (up to 2 job offers or assessed qualifications);

Proficiency in official languages (minimum CLB 5);

Previous work experience in the selected trades (minimum 2 years full-time); and

Meet the employment requirements of the selected trade.

The new Skilled Trades Stream will help address serious labour shortages in some regions of the country, and support economic growth," Minister Kenney said. "For too long, Canada's immigration system has not been open to these in-demand skilled workers. These changes are long overdue and will help us move to a fast and flexible immigration system that works for Canada's economy."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Labor Amnesty in U.A.E.

U.A.E. Amnesty

Dubai: Thousands of illegal immigrants are expected to flock to centres across the country as the 60-day visa amnesty begins on Tuesday.
Violators of the country’s residency law can visit a centre in each Emirate to start the departure process — which will see them leave the country with no ban or overstaying fines to pay.
General Directorate of Residency and Foreigner Affairs (GDRFA) officials confirmed illegal residents will be granted exit permits to leave the country — with all fines waived — upon visiting one of the 10 centres across the country.
Those applying for amnesty will have fingerprints and iris scans taken to ensure there are no pending criminal cases against them.
“The amnesty will start today and will last for 60 days, giving time for all illegal residents and visitors to leave the country without penalties,” officials said.
Last month Gulf News reported how Major General Nasser Awadi Al Menhali, assistant undersecretary for Naturalisation, Residency and Ports Affairs, announced the amnesty, detailing how illegal residents will be allowed to leave the UAE without penalty.
As many as 342,000 illegal immigrants took advantage of the last amnesty declared in 2007.
Around 300,000 illegal immigrants left the country under the second amnesty which ran between January and April, 2002.
In 1996, about 200,000 illegal residents left the country under a six-month amnesty.
Residency law violators should take their passport and an air ticket to their home country to any of the 10 amnesty centres across the emirates.
Officials have emphasised there is no need to approach the residency department where the original residency or visit visa was issued.
Those without passports — if they have been lost or stolen — will receive assistance from the residency department to obtain out-passes from their consulates or embassies.
Anyone with outstanding absconding cases against them, where their passport is held at a residency department, will be given back their passport in order to leave the country.
In cases where violators cannot afford an air ticket, they will receive support either in the form of liquidating their bank guarantee deposited at the Ministry of Labour, or where no guarantee exists, they will be helped by the authority on humanitarian grounds.
An official added: “For those violators who wish to stay in the UAE but who have allowed their residency to expire, overstaying fines must be paid in order to legalise residency status.”
In Dubai, those wishing to take advantage of the amnesty grace period can approach the Directorate to follow up on violations and foreigner affairs in Al Aweer from 8am until 8pm, except during holidays.
Colonel Mohammad Alwan, director of the GDRFA in Ajman, told Gulf News illegal residents in Ajman can approach the centre in Al Jurf area — close to the Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs where a special tent has been set up.
Brigadier Dr Abdullah Sahoo, director of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Sharjah, said: “In order for illegal immigrants to have their exit permits issued, they can approach the Sharjah residency department headquarters in Al Jawazat Area.
“They need to bring an air ticket, passport or out-passes from their consulates.”
People wishing to take advantage of the amnesty can call the toll free number, 800 5111, for enquiries and information on the required documents and how to apply.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Changing Job in UAE

Ban can be avoided by paying Dh3,000

Nasser Ahmed Al Osaiba (Compiled by Ahmed Shaaban) / 6 August 2012

I am working in a company here. When joining the company, they did not ask for my qualification. As I want to quit, will I escape the labour ban if I get my degree attested?
According to Article 1 of the cabinet decision No. 18 for the year 2005, the condition of the time that is required for changing the sponsor can be exempted against paying Dh3,000. Hence, you have to apply to the Ministry of Labour to exempt you from the ban against paying Dh3,000 no matter what was your degree.
PG degree-holder can shift job after one year
An expatriate husband with an MBA degree is sponsored by his expatriate wife. He has been working with a Dubai-based company for the last two months under a work permit and now wants to change the job. Will he be liable to labour ban?
According to Article 1 point 3A of the cabinet decision No. 18 for the year 2005, the holder of a postgraduate degree can request for a transfer of his sponsorship after one year of his work. Additionally, according to the same article, the time condition can be exempted by paying Dh3,000. Hence, he has to apply to the Ministry of Labour to exempt him from the ban.
Degree-holder can shift to new job after two years
Is it possible to move to another company after my two years’ stay in my present job as a beautician in a salon? I discussed the issue with my boss but he said I should finish three years before quitting. I am holding an unlimited contract. My visa will expire in July 2013. Will I be liable to a ban? The salary I get is less than Dh5,000. I am holding a college certificate. Please advise.
According to Article 1 point 3B of the cabinet decision No. 18 for the year 2005, the holder of a bachelor degree or an equivalent degree can request for a transfer of his sponsorship after two years of his work.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Construction Sector is Promising

Hiring in UAE: New jobs to open up in construction sector

One of the worst hit sectors during the recession phase may now offer many new jobs as construction activity picks up in the country.
According to a survey by, more than half of the recruiters (58 per cent) in the GCC predict new jobs in the coming quarter.
These recruiters are optimistic about the overall recruitment scenario. Most of these opportunities will be for the 8-15 years' experience levels.
Experts agree that this is one sector which looks very promising in the coming year. Trefor Murphy, Managing Director at Morgan McKinley believes this sector will show marked improvement in 2013. Agrees Toby Simpson, Managing Director at The Gulf Recruitment Group. According to him, "construction and engineering consultancy have shown growth, although largely due to projects outside the UAE."
Despite the optimism about the sector, a minority of the recruiters believe that we may see more layoffs in the coming quarter. The survey reveals that 19 per cent of the respondents forecast layoffs in the said period, whereas 13 per cent predicted no hiring.
"This clearly suggests that the global financial crisis has impacted hiring decisions of some companies who prefer to adopt a wait and watch mode," said the findings.
The widening gap between demand and supply for talented workers has become a major issue across the sector and those who predict new jobs said a talent crunch while hiring their employees is a problem they have to deal with. The findings suggest it is most difficult to hire talent at the 4-8 years' experience level.
"We are happy to see return of positive sentiments in the construction industry. We expect to witness things turning even better in the mid-term. Most of the GCC governments have large development projects in the pipeline and this should help provide the required boost to the construction industry," said Tarun Aggarwal, Business Head,
As new jobs open up in the sector, employees can also expect increments. Even in 2012 many employees got pay hikes. Majority (54 per cent) of the recruiters surveyed said that the range of increments were within the range of 5 per cent and 10 per cent. About 18 per cent recruiters said that they got less than 5 per cent increments.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mobile Phone Bills can Land you in Jail

Unpaid UAE mobile-phone bills can result in travel ban or arrest: TRA official
My Number My Identity' campaign aimed at stopping misuse of mobile phones
Many problems are caused by the misuse of mobile phones especially by people who are not the real owners of the numbers, said Majid Sultan Al Mesmar, Deputy Director-General of the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA).
Al Mesmar said mobile phone users are sometimes forced to pay tens of thousands of dirhams as phone tariffs incurred by others. Many cases relating to misuse of mobile phones are in the courts, he added.
Al Mesmar said Etisalat and du are obliged to cut service if an owner of a number does not settle his bill.
Both the service providers are entitled to issue notices to owners of the mobile phones numbers who have accumulated large amounts on their bills
Such notices could expose them to travel bans or arrest upon arrival in any UAE port.
It is for these reasons that the TRA obliged etisalat and du to launch the 'My Number My identity' campaign aimed at controlling the misuse of phone numbers.
The real owner of a number can also face charges of defamation and libel if the person who has borrowed his SIM card misuses it. Those who do not register their numbers could face disconnection of the service which will be restored only after they register.
The user will be given a deadline of six months if he wants to cancel a number. After this deadline, the service provider can disconnect service.
To register his number, the owner has to be personally present in the office of the service provider since his signature is required on the form, he added.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The End of Service Gratuity according to UAE Labor La w: is it the beginning of the end?

The End of Service Gratuity according to UAE Labor La w: is it the beginning of the end?

End of service gratuity ("ESG") is a topic that is currently stirring much debate. In particular, it was recently reported that after conducting a study into the ESG system, the World Bank recommended the establishment of a pension fund for expatriate employees to replace or supplement ESGs.
The ESG explained
ESG is a sum of money that an employer is lawfully required to pay an employee upon the termination of the employment relationship, subject to the employee satisfying certain conditions that are set out in the UAE Labour Law. The ESG scheme was introduced 40 years ago to ensure that when employment relationships were terminated, employees without pension benefits received a lump sum payment to assist them during the period following termination or for them to put towards their savings.
The payment is based on the employee's basic salary and length of service, although it may be reduced depending on the circumstances of the termination of employment and where the employee was working (see "reduced amount" section below). The calculation does not take into account payments that are additional to basic salary, such as housing and car allowance. However, where an employee receives a guaranteed or regular commission payment, this may be included within the calculation of basic salary for the purposes of the ESG calculation.
The amount
Employees with at least 12 months service are entitled to 21 calendar days' salary for each year of service in the first five years of employment and 30 calendar days' salary for each year of service worked beyond five years. The ESG payment is calculated on a pro-rata basis and therefore employees receive credit for the entire period of service. Importantly, the calculation is applied to the employee's salary at the time of termination, which can result in the ESG being substantial for long serving employees. The maximum ESG entitlement cannot however exceed two years salary.
Reduced amount
Where individuals are employed in onshore organisations within the UAE (and some of its free zones), reductions may be applied to their ESG entitlement should they resign from their roles. In particular, where an employee on a limited term contract with less than five years service resigns prior to the expiry of the fixed term, the employee is not entitled to an ESG payment whatsoever. In the case of an employee on an unlimited term contract, having been employed for more than one year but less than three years, he will receive one third of the full ESG entitlement. Where the period of continuous service is more than three years but less than five years the departing employee will be entitled to two thirds of the full ESG. Once an employee has accrued five years service, either on a limited or unlimited term contract, there will be no reduction pursuant to a resignation.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

UAE Labor Law Update

Employment relationships in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are generally regulated by the UAE Federal Law No. 8 of 1980, Regulating Labour Relations, as amended (Labour Law) together with regulations promulgated under that law.

The Labour Law applies to all employees working in the UAE, whether national or non-national, with the exception of certain categories of people. One of the exempted categories are employees working in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) are subject to the DIFC Employment Law No. 4 of 2005 (Employment Law). The legislative regime in the DIFC (save for certain laws such as criminal and immigration) is independent from the UAE. The DIFC has its own laws and regulations which govern commerce within the DIFC supported by its own independent English language common law court system.

The UAE faces relatively unique challenges, in that its population and workforce are predominantly made up of expatriates (for example, figures released last year indicated that 93 percent of the private sector workforce was made up of expatriates). The UAE must therefore balance the need for access to jobs and training for its local population and the retention of expatriates, particularly in light of the recent changes provoked by the economic climate.

Key developments

It is possible to characterise recent key developments in the laws as addressing certain areas which, as identified above, result from the UAE's unique position and broadly fall into three main categories, (1) management of the movement of workers; (2) protection of UAE nationals; and (3) developing practices to ensure that the UAE is in line with international standards for workers. Each of these is dealt with in turn.

1. Management of the movement of workers

Labour Bans

Prior to January 2011, the Ministry of Labour (Ministry) imposed an automatic 6-month ban on all expatriates leaving their employer. This applied to all employees falling within their jurisdiction (i.e. outside the free zones or the DIFC) and could only be lifted for those individuals with more than one year's service by way of a "no objection certificate" provided by the former employer and/or payment of a fee (depending upon length of service). However, during the economic downturn of 2009/2010, the automatic ban affected employees who had been made redundant by their employer, and this in turn resulted in the loss of some skilled workers with local UAE knowledge.

From January 2011, the practice has been amended and in accordance with a Ministerial resolution, the automatic ban will not be imposed in certain circumstances, having regard to issues such as length of service, level of expertise, and reason for dismissal, including whether the termination is due to a business reorganisation. In addition, in practice, the Ministry has further relaxed the enforcement of the employment ban provisions, so that at present, employees are free to move between employers (subject to any post-termination restrictions or other issues raised before the Ministry). However, the Ministerial resolution remains in place and may be more rigorously enforced in the future.

Internal work permits

In order to work in the UAE, an expatriate must obtain a residency visa and work permit. If the employee works within a free zone, their residency visa and ID card (work permit) is obtained via the relevant free zone (for example, DIFC).

The use of work permits is a further method by which the authorities are able to manage the movement of workers. From January 2011, the Ministry introduced five new work permits, which are applicable in cases where an individual already has a residence visa (or, in the case of a UAE national, is entitled to reside in the UAE). These permits are for a work transfer, temporary work, part-time work, cases where individuals are sponsored by family members and juveniles. One of the aims of the temporary work permit is to allow expatriates to obtain employment from another employer, pending the outcome of any ongoing litigation with their former employer (with whom they retain their visa). The part-time work permit is open for use by both expatriate and UAE nationals, although it is likely that one of the aims of the permit is to encourage UAE national females into the workforce. As with all permits, these are only issued upon the approval of the Ministry and therefore they are tightly controlled. The use of the part-time permit remains in doubt, in light of the fact that the Labour Law does not make any provision for part-time work and therefore minimum provisions applicable to full time employment (such as annual leave and sickness absence entitlement) will continue to apply to part time employees.


As noted above, all employees must have approval to work, by way of a work permit or ID card from the relevant authority. Prior to January 2011, employees falling under the Ministry jurisdiction were required to obtain express approval to continue working once they reached the age of 60 years. The age limit after which such express approval must be obtained has been increased to 65 years.

2. Protection of UAE nationals

The UAE operates a policy of "Emiratisation", which seeks to encourage private sector employers falling under the jurisdiction of the Ministry to maintain minimum levels of UAE nationals in their workforce. Whilst prior to January 2011, the Emiratisation policy was relatively indiscriminate, focusing purely on the number of UAE nationals in the workforce, a Ministry resolution which came into force in January 2011 now addresses the requirement for UAE nationals to fall within the white collar labour force and in particular, UAE nationals should make up 3 percent of the top three professional categories in an employer's workforce. The professional categories have to date been based upon educational qualifications, although there is a move towards reclassifying these, based upon professional experience.

Firms which maintain the required level of UAE nationals at the professional categories, and also comply with certain other Ministry requirements, are categorised as "First Class" companies, out of three possible categories. The Second Class categorisation also focuses on employee diversity, and seeks to limit the percentage of the workforce made up of one of three nationalities (Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi). A Third Class categorisation includes those companies who receive a certain number of fines or "penalty points" issued by the Ministry for breach of Ministerial resolutions, as well as companies undertaking more serious activities, such as human trafficking. The category into which a company falls will determine the amount of fees and bank guarantees that the company will be required to pay to the Ministry, as part of the normal administrative requirements when obtaining Ministerial consent for the employment of staff.

UAE nationals have also enjoyed protection from dismissal, since 2009, when a Ministerial resolution was provides that the termination of UAE nationals in the private sector is unlawful if the employer does not first notify the Ministry of the proposed dismissal (and at least 30 days before the termination date). The Ministry will investigate whether the employment is being terminated for a legally valid reason. If the Ministry decides the termination is not for a legally valid reason, the employer is given 15 days to resolve the situation. In accordance with the resolution, the termination will not be valid where (a) the employment is being terminated for a reason other than one of ten specified reasons for cause listed in the Labour Law (in practice, the ten reasons listed in the law are very narrowly interpreted); a non-national is undertaking the same role (in other words, the non-national should be dismissed first); or (c) where the UAE national has not received all end of service benefits due to them.

3. Development in line with international best practices

Although it remains the case that collective bargaining and strike action remain illegal in the UAE, there have been a number of recent developments intended to give protection to employees, particularly blue-collar workers who may lack the ability to challenge unfair practices. Recent key developments are:
·         In 2009, the Wage Protection System (WPS) was introduced and came into effect in 2010. This applies to all employees falling within the Ministry jurisdiction. Employers are required to pay employees' salary in UAE dirhams through the WPS. This is intended to ensure that employees are paid the correct salary amounts, and that the salaries are paid on time.
·         Manpower supply companies are strictly regulated by the Ministry and a Ministerial resolution in 2010 revised the criteria for the issuance of licenses for such entities. The key requirement is that the owner (whether an individual or an entity) must be a UAE national. The resolution was issued in response to complaints that certain employees recruited by manpower supply companies offshore were badly treated or mislead over employment opportunities. It was also brought in to stamp out illegal practices by certain entities in the UAE that provide manpower without being appropriately licensed.
·         Although the Employment Law contains anti-discrimination protection, the Labour Law only contains positive discrimination provisions. However, the Twofour54 Abu Dhabi Media Free Zone introduced anti-discrimination provisions in its employment regulations in 2011, which state that the free zone aims to create an environment where employment and advancement is based on merit and an employee is not treated less favourably by reason of gender, marital status, race, religion or disability. The regulations also impose an obligation on companies operating in the free zone to be guided by the principle of non-discrimination when employing employees.
·         The DIFC Court offers employees an informal forum (the Small Claims Tribunal) in which to bring employment claims. In 2011, the SCT extended its jurisdiction to all employment claims which equal or are less than AED200,000 (approx.. US$ 55,000). In addition, it is possible for the SCT to hear all employment claims (regardless of size of the amount of the claim), upon consent by both parties.
Looking forward

In light of recent socio-economic and political developments in the region, it is likely that the UAE will remain one of the prime destinations for expatriates but at the same time the UAE government will be keen to continue to ensure that its nationals are protected adequately. After a relatively busy year in 2011 on the legislative front, it is envisaged that the authorities will consolidate the changes implemented.

There has been some discussion of implementing new schemes to encourage Emiratisation, for example, by partnering with the private sector to train and employ UAE nationals for a minimum period in return for subsidies provided by the government.

Pensions for expatriate employees are expected to be high on the agenda for 2012 following widely reported talks between the World Bank and the UAE. Currently expatriate employees are only entitled to statutory end of service gratuity (in the form of a lump sum payment) at the end of service which is calculated by reference to their period of service with employers in the UAE/DIFC. This is seen as one of the key requirements to make employment in the UAE more attractive to expatriates and encourage individuals with specialised expertise to remain in the UAE long term.

Along with the possible changes in the UAE legislation, the DIFC is also likely to implement amendments to the Employment Law. A consultation paper on proposed amendments to the Employment Law was launched in December 2011 with the consultation period ending on 14 January 2012. The proposed amendments are being viewed as an attempt to address some of the inconsistencies in and provide clarity on certain aspects of the law.

We expect that the Arab Spring will continue to have a positive effect in the UAE with more foreign investment earmarked for the region being channelled into the UAE, but at the same time it is likely that the focus will continue to be on the issue of jobs for UAE nationals.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Illegal Removal of Employee and Its Compensation

Employees entitled to overtime allowance: court
Court alone can rule whether salary was paid as per job contract
If an employee puts in two or more extra hours of work a day, he is legally entitled to overtime payment in cash, according to the Dubai Court of Cassation.
And, in labour disputes, the court alone can decide whether a worker was paid the salary mentioned in the employment contract, the court said.
The court was hearing a case brought by a project manager against his employer. The court ruled that the employee is entitled to leave allowance of Dh31,000 because the employer could not prove that the allowance had been paid to him. The court also ordered payment of Dh62,500 to the employee, being the total of his dues and end-of-service benefits. The court also ordered the employee to be paid cash compensation for 652 hours of overtime at the rate of four hours per day.
The court rejected the company's justifications for not paying overtime allowance for more than two hours per day.
The plaintiff had filed a lawsuit against his employer in the Labour Court, pleading that the employee be ordered to pay Dh718,000 as compensation for unfair dismissal after eight months of service. He was sacked while on annual leave and the company had refused to pay him end-of-service benefits based on his monthly salary of Dh62,500.
The plaintiff defined his dues as the last month's salary and one month's salary for warning in addition to three months' salary as compensation for unfair termination.
He also demanded Dh169,000 as overtime allowance, Dh31,000 as annual leave allowance in addition to Dh28,000 as gratuity and Dh5,000 for return ticket to his country.
The Court of First Instance ordered the company to pay to the employee Dh62,500.
The plaintiff then went before the Court of Appeal which changed the figure to Dh276,000.
The employed then challenged this ruling before the Court of Cassation, saying the employee's salary is Dh32,000 as per the employment contract, not Dh62,500 as claimed by the employee.
The company also challenged the calculation of overtime of 652 hours because that means the employee was working more than two additional hours a day in violation of the Labour Code.
The Court of Cassation rejected the company's arguments, saying the burden of proving whether an employee was paid salary, overtime and other benefits is on the employer. In this case, the employer had failed to furnish sufficient proof.
The court also said the bank's statement of account showed that the employee's monthly salary was Dh62,500 and not Dh32,000 as claimed by the company.
Regarding overtime, the court rejected the employer's arguments on the basis of Article 67 of the Labour Code which restricts overtime to no more than two hours a day except in cases of work to prevent massive loss or serious accident. Also, the plaintiff had submitted overtime statements certified by the employer, the Court of Cassation said in its verdict.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Changing Face of Saudi Job Market

380,000 jobs in 10 months for Saudis thanks to Nitaqat

JEDDAH - Since its implementation 10 months ago, the Nitaqat Program has created 380,000 job opportunities in the private sector, said Adel Fakieh, Minister of Labor, Saturday during a dialogue session at Okaz headquarters. 

"This figure is 20 times what had been previously achieved over the past five years before Nitaqat was introduced," he said.

The minister also announced that a new program called "Jahiz" or "Ready" will be launched and will create job opportunities for Saudi students who have just finished their scholarship programs abroad and returned home.

Speaking to an audience of businessmen, intellectuals and media persons, Fakieh said the Nitaqat Program does not aim to cause harm to any private sector company or business. The program encourages the private sector to hire Saudis and categorizes companies into four zones: Excellent, green, yellow, and red, he explained.

Companies in the excellent and green zones will be rewarded while those in the red zone will be dealt with strictly and will be required to meet Saudization quota, he added. Companies in the yellow zone will be given a grace period to meet the required percentage. 

299,000 Saudis join civil service

More than 299,000 Saudi men and women have joined the civil service during 2012 as a result of new employment programs introduced by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah. The figure was announced during the weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday.

Saudization: 43% of private sector firms face closure

Khalid Maqbool and Abdullah Al-Husoon

JEDDAH -- Over 40 percent of private sector companies might be shut down if they fail to meet their Saudization targets, Adel Fakeih, Minister of Labor, has said.

Big establishments are expected to achieve 30 to 35 percent Saudization while smaller businesses are likely to achieve seven to 10 percent, Fakieh said during a dialogue session at Okaz headquarters here recently.

"When they (the establishments) do this, they will be categorized as green companies, enabling them to take advantage of the ministry's services," he said.

Commenting on a new program to create job opportunities for newly-graduated scholarship students, Fakieh said the initiative will allow graduates to register their personal information and qualifications before graduation so that employers can study their data and contact them.

Alateeq: Accelerate Saudization process in senior positions
Intensifying Saudization, boosting cooperation between the public and private sectors, and ending bureaucratic delays are the three major steps that should be taken within the coming two decades, according to Abdullah Alateeq, CEO of Watan Pac. With Watan Pac involved in implementing the Ministry of Labor's intensive Saudization plan, Alateeq told Diana Al-Jassem of Arab News that a joint action by Saudi companies to bring together both old and new generations in tackling the problem of unemployment, checking rising prices and encouraging SMEs in a major effort to boost the economy. Rapid change

What changes would make a major impact on the lives of Saudis in the coming 20 years?

Unemployment: We need to be more concerned with major issues like finding employment for our new generations. We have to prepare the Saudi market for receiving fresh Saudi graduates. About 200,000 Saudi students are expected to enter the job market in the next few years. I expect the Kingdom to work harder than ever for bringing unemployment to zero level. The recent statistics showed the unemployment figure at about 1.7 million in the Kingdom. We want Saudis to work in prestigious and highly skilled positions rather than in lower levels. What we have seen in the Kingdom is that the Saudization plan tends to employ Saudis in lower positions.

Industrial boom: I believe that completing the pending industrial projects will lead the country to an industrial boom, thus contributing to a positive economic movement. Budget will also have a positive impact on local markets, especially if we motivate local investment projects. In addition, huge infrastructure projects and industrial cities will help in developing trade and the economy overall.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Six-month work ban applies evenly to men and women

Friday 7 September 2012

JEDDAH: The National Committee of Workers and businessmen have agreed on providing two-day weekly off for employees in the private sector, said Abdul Rahman Al-Zamil, head of the team of businessmen that attended a social dialogue forum on the issue.

"A closed-door meeting of representatives from the three parties have agreed that the weekly off in the private sector would be two days and but did not decide the days of the weekend," said Al-Zamil, who is a prominent businessman and industrialist.

There were proposals to make Friday and Saturday weekly holidays for the benefit of businesses having contacts with international companies and agencies. Al-Zamil expressed his hope that an agreement would be reached on bringing down weekly working hours to 40, a demand that was made to attract Saudi workers to private firms. However, some businessmen have suggested making it 45 hours.

"Most members of our team have agreed to a one-shift duty with work starting at 10 a.m. and exempting Makkah and Madinah from limiting working hours," Al-Eqtisadaih business daily quoted Al-Zamil as saying.
A survey conducted by the Ministry of Labor and King Abdul Aziz National Dialogue on working hours has revealed that shortening working hours in the private sector would encourage citizens to work in that sector.

The study, which covered 3,662 respondents from across the Kingdom, shows that the long working hours is the main reason for the reluctance of young Saudis to take up offers in the private sector. A majority of participants in the study did not support Saturday to be one of the proposed two-day weekend, although they did support a two-day weekend to make it more attractive for Saudis to work in the private sector.
Employment issues and unemployment problems are the main concerns of 49 percent of Saudi youth who took part in the survey. Housing and rent issues came second, concerning 32 percent of participants. 

Ibrahim Al-Moaiqali, director general of the Human Resource Development Fund, said Wednesday's dialogue did not reach any consensus on how to confront the challenges facing the private sector and reach solutions that would make the job market more attractive to Saudis.

He emphasized the need for taking a balanced decision to protect workers' rights as well as to boost the national economy. "The decisions should not affect the national economy and the Kingdom's businesses. Private sector investments are a key factor to accelerate economic growth," he added. He said an agreement on weekly off days and weekly working hours would solve one of the major obstacle facing Saudi workers.

Ahmed Al-Humaidan, secretary-general of the dialogue forum and undersecretary at the Labor Ministry, said the ministry has no plan to impose its decision on the private sector. "We organized this forum to reach a consensus on the issue," he pointed out.

He said the Council of Saudi Chambers, the National Committee of Workers and the Labor Ministry should work together as partners to achieve job market stability and accelerate economic and social development.
The dialogue forum discussed four important papers on the effect of working hours on institutions; unification of working hours in the public and private sectors; daily working hours in the wholesale and retail trade; and distribution of daily working hours.
© Arab News 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

Visit-to-work rules relaxed

KUWAIT: The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour has excluded workers in some technical professions from the condition of having a university degree when transferring from commercial visit visas to work visas. Ministry Undersecretary Mohammad Al-Kandari said the ministry wanted to make the process easier for employees. He said several government companies benefit from transferring visit visas into work permits, although that law easily allows them to obtain work visas. But the companies find it easier and quicker to make such a transfer.
Separately, Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Humoud Al-Sabah allowed the entry of two members of the Bahraini opposition group Al-Wefaq - Ramlah Abdelhameed and Nazi Kareemi - into Kuwait after they signed an undertaking to leave the country in three days. Sources said the two are banned from entering Kuwait for security reasons, adding that certain parties mediated with the minister to allow them to enter, arguing the ban was "illogical" and they have not done anything to harm Kuwait.
Meanwhile, a big fight broke out between two members of the majority bloc from the fourth constituency and belonging to the same tribe over demands for a constitutional monarchy and electing a popular government. Informed sources said one of the MPs urged members of the bloc to declare clear and frank stands in support of a constitutional monarchy so that the majority bloc will have one opinion in this regard. But the second MP objected to this, saying "it is not your right to ask us for something members of the bloc rejected completely". "You personally are not convinced with this constitutional monarchy demand and did not talk about it at the Assembly, but now you are adopting it to appease the Islamic Constitutional Movement to get their votes," he charged.
Legal experts expect the constitutional court to confirm that the five-constituency law is unconstitutional, and recommend that a new legislation be introduced to avoid any court action against the next Assembly. The court decided to start discussions on the law on Sept 5 to discuss the government's request. The sources said it is not the court that will issue a new law for the constituencies, which means that the 2009 National Assembly is obliged to do so, or an urgent decree for the same. The sources said an urgent decree cannot be issued until after the Assembly is dissolved, but they expected that there won't be an urgent decree because the government does not want to lose political allies who reject such a move.
Sources also revealed that weapons Kuwait has ordered from the US will be processed in October when the deal is signed officially. Sources said Kuwait may receive the first consignment of the arms during the second half of next year, adding that a military delegation will visit Washington to discuss the deal. Also, an Iraqi bloc has asked its government to reconsider economic agreements with regional countries that were signed since 2003, particularly with Kuwait. The Free Iraqi Bloc spokesperson Alia Nasif said "most economic and commercial agreements Iraq signed with the region's countries during the years following the fall of Saddam made Iraq a target to dump their products". "It is certain that most of those agreements were signed during circumstances that are different from what they are now," she said.