More than 1,200 companies in breach of Emiratisation rules

Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation say breaches refer to employment of 1,963 Emiratis

There are currently 95,000 Emiratis employed by the private sector, according to the latest figures. Photo: Sharjah Job Fair
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More than 1,200 companies have hired Emiratis illegally in an attempt to get around the UAE's Emiratisation laws, latest figures have revealed.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation said the breaches concern the employment of 1,963 Emiratis, in which companies were found to be using “fake Emiratisation” to circumvent the rules.

The numbers involved are for the period from mid-2022 to March 14, 2024.

“Our inspection team has successfully identified 1,202 private companies that have hired 1,963 UAE nationals illegally through attempting to circumvent Emiratisation targets and engaging in fake Emiratisation from mid-2022 until March 14, 2024,” the ministry said on social media platform X.

“Harmful practices that aim to undermine Emiratisation commitments will be dealt with firmly and according to the law.”

Penalties in place

Companies that are found to be in breach of the UAE's Emiratisation rules face fines from Dh20,000 to Dh100,000 for each case.

There is also the risk of being referred to prosecutors depending on the severity of the offence, according to the ministry.

Companies in breach must also make financial contributions towards Emiratisation targets and will be classified in the lowest ranking on the ministry's system.

Citizens found to be in breach will have their Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council programme (Nafis) benefits ceased and previous benefits will be recovered, the ministry said.

Emiratisation project

There are currently 95,000 Emiratis employed by the private sector, according to the latest figures from the ministry.

More than 20,000 companies have complied with the regulations.

From January 1 last year, private companies with more than 50 employees had to ensure that 2 per cent of staff members were Emirati.

This figure rose to 4 per cent by the end of last year and will rise to 6 per cent this year and 8 per cent next year, with the ultimate goal of hitting a 10 per cent target by the end of 2026.

Smaller businesses with 20 to 49 employees must hire at least one citizen by the end of 2024 and another by 2025.

The requirement applies to privately owned companies in 14 sectors, including property, education, construction and health care.

Previously, only companies with 50 or more employees needed to meet the targets for hiring citizens.

Earlier this month, the UAE approved a Dh6.4 billion budget to further boost Emiratisation in the private sector.

A new target was set for the country's Nafis programme, which launched in 2021, to ensure 36,000 citizens join the private sector workforce in 2024, the state news agency Wam reported.

Updated: March 15, 2024, 2:14 PM