Holidays boost to make private sector jobs more appealing to Emiratis

Speaking at Dubai summit, Sheikh Mansour outlines the inequality between the two sectors, which includes Government workers having more time off and higher wages.

Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, speaks at the Government Summit in Dubai. Sarah Dea / The National
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DUBAI // Private sector weekends and public holidays may soon be brought in line with those of government employees.

Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister, announced the move to adjust the holidays yesterday. Speaking on the second day of a Government Summit in Dubai, he said this was part of efforts to make private sector employment more appealing to Emiratis - a sector in which he said 30,000 new positions were available.

"The Minister of Labour has been assigned to adjust the working hours and days of the private sector to be more compatible with those of the public sector," said Sheikh Mansour.

The current law only grants a day a week of mandatory rest for private sector workers, whereas government employees have two days off and are also allotted longer public holidays. As a result, many private sector employees work an extra 57 days a year.

"The percentage of Emiratisation in the public sector has reached more than 90 per cent and we now have to concentrate on private sectors," said Sheikh Mansour.

Federal Government only employed 1,500 new Emirati staff last year, the Ministry of Labour has said - a clear indication the sector was nearing saturation point.

Emiratis account for only 20,000 of the four million workers in the private sector and the most recent unemployment statistics suggest a 20.8 per cent unemployment rate among nationals.

"We now need to find young Emiratis who are content with working in the private sector," he said.

Outlining what he called a "real but illogical example" of the difference between the two sectors, Sheikh Mansour explained: "A person who works with the public sector works five days a week and with salaries three times more than his counterpart in the private sector, while the person in the private sector works more hours and with less pay."

The Deputy Prime Minister also revealed new details of the most recent government Emiratisation initiative, Absher, which he said would provide an additional 10,000 jobs in the private sector for Emiratis for a total of 30,000 job openings in the next five years.

"The Absher initiative is one of the most important initiatives because it focuses on the private sector," he said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the event the Minister of Labour, Saqr Ghobash, said the gap between working hours and salaries were major challenges to the Emiratisation of the private sector.

"There is a 57 working day gap each year between the two sectors. The gap between salaries is also a challenging factor," he said. "Without bridging these gaps we will not be able to achieve the required results of Emiratisation. These issues need to be addressed and we are working on finding suitable solutions for it."

Sheikh Mansour also warned against complacency and said everyone should strive to find work. "Employment is not something to be ashamed of my brothers and sisters," he said. "Our ancestors and forefathers travelled far and wide for work before, and they did not have all this technology that we possess today. Therefore, staying at home is not acceptable. The person should go out and find work as this is imperative," he stressed. "The youth today dislike some jobs or have issues with their job titles. We should forget about that and concentrate on productivity, the job and the search for jobs," he added.

* With additional reporting by Awad Mustafa and Ayesha Al Khoori