Panel of Dubai judges set up to tackle cases after domestic workers law change

Dubai Labour Court is to set-up dedicated judging panel for influx of an anticipated 1,500 cases a year

Judge Jamal Al Jaberi, Chief Justice of Dubai Labour Court. Courtesy: Omar Askar
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Dubai’s labour court is to appoint a panel of judges to oversee cases related to the updated domestic workers law introduced last month.

The Chief Justice of Dubai Labour Court, judge Jamal Salem Al Jaberi, said that the court will soon assign the panel for a new “judicial circuit,” which will be dedicated to look into and rule on cases filed by domestic workers. The panel will sit for the first time two months after the law’s publication in the official gazette, which happened on September 22.

“Domestic workers’ cases were excluded from the labour law and were mainly handled by residency departments across the country, before they were referred to the Ministry of Labour at the beginning of this year,” said judge Al Jaberi, who believes the updated law promotes decent working conditions, including rest hours, an assigned weekend day off, sick leave, end of service and the right to keep possession of their official documents such as ID and passport.

Read more: President Sheikh Khalifa issues labour law to support service workers

He said the court is currently engaged in meetings with relevant authorities to secure a smooth transition of all domestic cases, of which he estimates there were about 1,500 such cases in Dubai in both 2015 and last year.

According to the new law, domestic workers will file their complaints with the Ministry of Labour, which will refer them to court if an amicable settlement cannot be reached.

“Just like in labour court, the employer in a case filed by a domestic worker will have to attend before the court to face charges, such as failing to pay wages, depriving the worker from weekend and rest hours, or not providing decent working conditions,” said judge Al Jaberi, who added that the law will protect employers too.

“The employer can also, according to this law, file a case, for example, if the worker was causing damages or failing to fulfill their duties in any manner, and if employers were unsatisfied with the worker within the six-month probation period, unlike before, they can get all their money back.”