UAE to impose penalities on companies hiring illegal workers

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Dubai, Sep 18 (UNI) The United Arab Emirates will impose penalties on companies if they hired illegal workers after October one, Minister of Labour Ali bin Abdullah Al Ka'abi said.

''There are many sponsors who hire illegals as drivers and housemaids. It is a violation of the Labour Law because there is no protection of the workers' rights in such cases. Hence, the ministry is giving the sponsors two-week grace period to legalise the status of the workers, be it at home or in a company,'' the Khaleej times today quoted the minister as saying.

Addressing the media yesterday in Abu Dhabi, the minister emphasised on the endeavours to halt the ''illegal workers phenomenon'' in the UAE.

Assistant Undersecretary in the Ministry of Labour (MoL), Humaid bin Deemas, said, ''The employers should apply for a work permit and labour card after signing contract with the labourers.

That is to protect the workers' rights because it is not proper to employ a housemaid and make her work at the company as well.'' The sponsors could transfer the employees from different companies with the MoL's approval, he said, adding ''the penalties, classified into seven categories, will depend on the kind of violations.'' ''The penalties include suspension of the violating firm's transactions with the ministry, blocking of sponsorship transfer and downgrading to 'C' category. In case of repeat violations, the ministry can order the company closed,'' Mr Demmas said.

''For providing employment to a worker who entered the country illegally, the firm in the A-B category will face one-year suspension and downgrading to 'C' category. If the violating company is already in the 'C' category, it will face two-year suspension,'' he added.

If an A-B class company hired absconders, it would face one-year suspension and downgrading to 'C' category for nine months. However, if the company was in the 'C' category, it would face one-year suspension, he said.

Violation in the 3rd-7th categories included hiring of a labourer who was on another company's sponsorship, without MoL approval; a labourer working without MoL work permit; recruiting workers who had a work permit issued from free zones as well as hiring of housemaids, private drivers, farms workers who were on their relatives' sponsorship; recruiting a worker sponsored by government or semi-governmental firms without MoL approval; and recruiting workers who came on visit visa or were in transit.

Assistant Undersecretary in the MoL Obaid Rashid Al Zahmi said, ''If we want to control the labour market we should protect the rights of workers. Hence, the minister has stipulated stiff punishments for those hiring illegal workers in the country.'' The penalties mentioned in the ministerial order would be imposed in addition to the punishments stated in the Cabinet decision, he said, adding '' The ministry will cancel the work permit of any expatriate who is held responsible for hiring illegals and the case will be referred to the General Prosecution.'' UNI

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