Company accused of siphoning cash from Emiratisation training scheme

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation acted on a complaint from an employee

The UAE wants to increase the numbers of Emiratis working in the private sector in the coming years. Pawan Singh / The National
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A private company is facing legal action over claims it wrongly deducted money from the salaries of Emirati staff intended to support their training under a government employment drive.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation referred the unnamed firm to public prosecutors after a complaint was lodged by a female Emirati trainee.

Investigations revealed the woman and other workers who were part of the UAE's Nafis programme were instructed to pay monthly contributions to their employer, which were taken out of the additional payments they were due to receive for a period of 12 months.

The Nafis scheme was set up to support the government's push to ensure citizens make up 10 per cent of the private sector by 2026, including 2 per cent by January 1.

Financial incentives have been introduced to help attain those goals. These include a monthly stipend of Dh5,000 for up to five years for Emirati university graduates.

There is also one-year salary support of up to Dh8,000 a month for skilled Emiratis undergoing training.

During questioning, the company said the deducted money was being used to support humanitarian initiatives.

“Such practices are considered a violation of the requirements explained to establishments before they are licensed by the Nafis programme to train Emiratis,” the ministry said on Thursday.

“They are a deviation from the basic objective of the training process, which is to equip the Emiratis in the private sector and develop their skill sets before they are employed on a permanent basis by those establishments after successful completion of the training.”

Tough action on firms failing to back plans

The ministry warned it would take strong action against employers shirking their responsibilities.

Companies face Dh100,000 fines for forging hiring documents to hit a new quota for Emiratis working in the private sector.

The ministry issued the warning this week ahead of an end-of-year deadline.

By January 1, 2023, companies with more than 50 employees must ensure 2 per cent of their staff are Emirati. Any employer that fails to reach the target must pay Dh6,000 a month for every position short of the quota.

The policy applies to domestic companies registered with ministry — and does not apply to free-zone businesses.

In a statement on Tuesday, officials suggested the move raised the prospect of some employers trying to get around the requirement.

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Updated: November 17, 2022, 7:01 PM