The UAE is keen on protecting workers’ rights and several laws have been issued and effectively implemented to protect both workers and their employers, said a top judicial official.
Hassan Al Hamadi, director of prosecutions at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD), said workers in the UAE enjoy full protection of their rights stipulated in the country’s legislations, which are on par with the best international standards.
“The labour laws strike a balanced worker-employer relationship and regulate it in a way that protects rights of all parties involved,” he said during a media briefing on Wednesday about the rights of workers and the law.
Al Hamadi cited the recent Federal Law No. 10 of 2017 on protection of workers, setting up working hours, paid sick leave and a day off every week for housemaids, nannies, gardeners and other workers.
The law promotes decent work conditions for all workers including social protection and access to specialised tribunals at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and courts.
The labour laws also fine employers and recruiters up to Dh100,000 for failing to guarantee these rights or to those who discriminate, harass or force work on the people they employ.
The federal law covers 19 service occupations, including sailors, guards, parking valet staff, farmers, gardeners, domestic workers, cooks and nannies, as well as private trainers, nurses and drivers.
According to the law, discrimination includes differentiating between workers and not treating them with equality based on race, colour, gender, religion, political opinion, ethnicity or social origins.
“The UAE labour law is a comprehensive one. It spells out details of all workers’ rights, employee records, safety standards, termination of employment and end of service gratuity payments and others,” said Al Hamadi.
He noted that the law stipulates penalties imposed on recruitment agencies if they use violence against workers, fail to accurately notify workers of their job description or the value of the overall salary, or ensure their health and fitness ahead of bringing them in to the country.
Judicial department’s initiatives
The department has undertaken many initiatives in protecting the rights of workers, which include organising workshops and field visits to workers accommodation to teach workers about the labour law and their rights, human trafficking and other related issues so they can file complaints to authorities in case of abuse for their rights.
The department introduced a mobile court to handle cases involving disputes between workers and their employers and last year, a One-day Labour Court was established in Abu Dhabi to cut waiting time and ensure quick verdicts in cases that do not exceed Dh20,000.
The Abu Dhabi’s mobile courtroom housed in a double-decker bus serve as an official court and is used for cases involving large groups of people living in one area, such as workers accommodation, or that involve people who find it difficult to attend court, such as those with special needs. Officials said that the mobile court has handled more than 1,000 cases last year.
“The judicial department also launched on its website a system that can help or show workers how to calculate their end of service gratuity,” said Al Hamadi.
“The department has also established a human rights department and the legal aid office to help workers facing problems at work or with disputes with their employers,”
The official figures show that there has been a significant decrease in the number of work-related injuries from 90 cases in 2016 to 48 cases in 2017.
Officials also received 10 complaints from workers for non-payment of wages by their employers during 2017 and 22 cases from January to March 2018.
Workers’ rights stipulated by the law:
1- Remuneration (salary) within first 10 days of a month
2- One day of rest every week, including service workers
3- Employing a worker less than 18 years is illegal
4- 30 days paid annual leave and decent accommodation.
5- Medical insurance at the expense of the employer
6- A return ticket at the expense of employer once in every two years
7- Right to receive treatment and compensation due to occupational hazards
8- Non-employment of a worker in an area that is different from the nature of his work
9- Right to keep his or her identity documents including passport and Emirates ID
10- Right to obtain a copy of employment contract
11- Right to sick leave.
12- Right to end of service gratuity