Private sector companies with at least 50 employees must ensure 3 per cent of their workforce is made up of Emiratis by July 1.
Employers in the UAE are expected to meet a 4 per cent target by the end of the year as part of the government’s Emiratisation initiative.
The Emirati employment rate is to increase to 6 per cent in 2024, 8 per cent in 2025 and 10 per cent in 2026.
Those end-of-year goals remain in place, but private businesses must now make sure they reach those targets with an increase of 1 per cent every six months.
The measures apply to skilled positions and companies in free zones are exempt. They are however, encouraged to participate in the scheme.
Employers were directed to have 2 per cent of roles taken up by Emiratis by the end of 2022.
Businesses are being asked to increase the number of citizens they hire by 2 per cent each year in order to reach 10 per cent by the start of 2027.
The government is determined to increase local participation in the private sector, saying it remains central to the economic prosperity of the country.
“The cabinet was briefed on the developments of Emiratisation programmes in the private sector, and issued a decision regarding the amendment of some provisions related to the goals of the Nafis initiatives,” said a statement released by the UAE Government Media Office.
“The annual target for Emiratisation is [now] divided throughout the year by 1 per cent in the first six months of the year and the other 1 per cent in the second half of the year.”
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation said companies would not be subject to further financial penalties for non-compliance, but fines would now be collected every six months.
Previously it was announced that firms that fail to reach the 4 per cent mark in 2023 will pay Dh84,000 for each Emirati not hired, with this figure rising to Dh120,000 per worker for 2026.
"The financial contributions on companies that do not meet the target for the first half of 2023 will begin in July 2023, and the contributions for non-compliance from 2022 will continue to be collected," the ministry said.
Encouraging Emirati talent
Abdulrahman Al Awar, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, said the private sector had proven to be a "credible partner" in the government's campaign to harness the potential of Emirati talent.
“This step aims to maintain employment and retention rates of Emiratis in the private sector," the minister said during a briefing in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
“The private sector has proven itself as a credible partner, and we are confident that the new amendments will reflect positively on the existing co-operation.”
Figures released last month showed that 28,700 Emiratis have taken jobs at private companies since the launch of the Nafis employment programme a year ago.
The Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council, headed by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court, said Nafis had exceeded expectations in 2022, with more than 50,000 UAE citizens now working in the private sector.
Officials said about Dh400 million in fines have been issued to companies that failed to hit a January 1 deadline to meet Emiratisation targets.
There are 13,000 companies in the UAE's private sector that met the criteria, employing more than 50 employees. Firms based in free zones are exempt.
Of these, about 9,000 met the deadline while about 3,000 companies missed it, and 1,000 partially achieved the target.
More than 17,000 job vacancies were posted on the Nafis portal, where Emiratis are encouraged to look for opportunities.