Amnesty of more than Dh2 billion in unpaid labour fines for UAE workers

From January 4 until June 30 all individual labour cards fines will be reduced to Dh1,000, said the Ministry of Labour on Sunday morning.

Humaid Al Suwaidi, assistant undersecretary of labour affairs at the Ministry of Labour speaking to media during the press conference in Dubai regarding labour card fines. Pawan Singh / The National
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DUBAI // The federal Government will scrap more than Dh2.7 billion from unpaid fines for labour card offences in a six-month amnesty.

From January 4 all individual fines, no matter how large, will be reduced to Dh1,000, the Ministry of Labour said on Sunday.

The amnesty will last until June 30.

The ministry said the move was part of efforts to help put private firms back on their feet.

The Government is owed Dh2.85bn by 40,000 companies, but after the amnesty that figure is expected to be closer to Dh100 million.

Some of the largest fines reach-ed Dh53,000 for each labour card and some companies owed millions, the ministry said.

Humaid Al Suwaidi, assistant undersecretary for labour affairs, urged companies to settle.

“Electronic labour card offences have all been dropped to Dh1,000 for each employee,” Mr Al Suwaidi said.

“The deadline includes electronic labour cards that have not been issued or renewed until the end of this current month, which amount to 100,000 cards from 40,000 facilities, marking 13 per cent of the total registered facilities in the ministry.”

About 100,000 workers in the UAE had problems with their labour cards, Mr Al Suwaidi said.

Of those, 95,000 did not have their cards renewed or cancelled after the two-year period, with the other 5,000 failing to apply for labour cards when entering the country, not cancelling work permits or not reporting lost cards.

Fines that have not been paid after June 30 will be charged an extra Dh500 a month, down from Dh1,000.

“This confirms the Government’s keenness to support employers and motivate them to settle those fines, which is a tool used by the ministry to control and regulate the labour market and provide protection to the workers,” Mr Al Suwaidi said.

“Now that big fine has been settled and reduced to only Dh1,000, which is an opportunity for all employers and business owners to settle fines imposed on them and remove any sorts of restrictions in their records.”

Also from January 4, companies that have not entered into a labour contract with an employee after 60 days will be fined Dh500 a month.

If the contract is still not signed after a few months, the company would be unable to employ more workers until fines are paid and the contract signed.