Jobseekers who use fake degrees to get work in the UAE may soon face two years in prison and a fine of up to Dh500,000 ($136,000), the Federal National Council heard.
Under a draft law passed by the FNC on Tuesday, people who use forged qualifications will face stricter penalties, even if they claim ignorance about the authenticity of their documents.
People who mistakenly or unknowingly use a fake degree will be fined up to Dh30,000 and could spend up to three months in jail.
“Everybody knows the rapid technological advancements for producing such documents,” said FNC member Nasser Al Yamahi.
“This has become a worldwide trend, and not just in the UAE.”
He said many people get fake degrees from unlicensed academic institutes abroad.
“This is something new in society, and it is not prosecuted [by existing] laws, so it became necessary to have a comprehensive legislation for it,” Mr Al Yamahi said.
The new law will also target recruiters and employers who knowingly accept fake paperwork.
They will have to pay a minimum fine of Dh100,000 – which can go up to Dh1m – and up to two years in jail.
Those who issue or contribute to issuing fake qualifications will face a fine of between Dh500,000 and Dh1m and up to two years in jail
The authenticity of qualifications is certified by the Ministry of Higher Education.
At the FNC in January 2019, Minister of State for Higher Education Dr Ahmad Al Falasi said the country’s status as a “top destination” tempted people to forge documents to land lucrative positions.
He said no fake degrees were accredited by the ministry but 143 attempts to pass off such certificates as genuine were detected in 2018.
“Before accrediting any certificate, the ministry asks for stamps from concerned parties, like the embassy of the country the degree was issued at, and then we contact the university itself and confirm whether the student graduated from there,” he said.
Jobseekers applying for roles in government and semi-government organisations in Abu Dhabi must present a degree accredited by the ministry before being recruited. But not all private companies follow that rule.
The new law seeks to end this discrepancy and put an end to the practice of using fake qualifications.