ABU DHABI // Lawyers, recruiting experts and parents said safeguards in the recent decree allowing young people to work in the private sector were essential to ensure that such workers were not exploited by their employers.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation announced on Wednesday that youths between the ages of 12 and 18 are now able to apply for temporary work permits, encouraging youth employment in the private sector while giving them experience in the work environment.
Zack Abdi, managing director of human resources consultancy Provectus Middle East, welcomed the lowering the work experience age but believed safeguards should be put in place.
“Work experience for young people can be invaluable training for them to understand working life culture,” he said. “But it must be done in a way that they are not taken advantage of and can get the most out of their time at a company.”
Those on work experience must be given a full induction once they arrive at a business and become fully aware of the safety rules and regulations in place, he said.
“They should be aware of every little detail from where the canteen is to where the nearest mosque is,” he said.
“But one of the issues I notice is that too many demands are placed on HR managers to not only meet existing rules but keep pace with changes.
“A lot are snowed under and I think companies need to have a clear system in place to make sure both the business and young people get the most out of their time at work placements.”
Nedaa Elshorafa said although she would encourage her 14-year-old daughter to seek employment under the new law she said provisions protecting her child had to be spelt out.
“This is a great opportunity to engage the children in something other than social media, which can lead them to bad situations,” she said.
“But before she enrols in any jobs there have to be clear and set rules which she and her employer are fully aware of.”
The decree complements a previous UAE labour law that provides provisions for those from the ages of 15 to 18.
Lawyer Abdulhakim Binherz said the previous federal law stipulated that all children employees required guardian consent, could not work for more than six hours a day with a break of at least one hour and under no circumstances should work overtime.
“These stipulations will ensure the protection of young employees under the law from harm and abuse as well as providing them with safe working environments,” said Mr Binherz.
Existing juvenile work permits allow employers to hire Emiratis or expatriates aged 15 to 18 for one year.
The new work permits, which will cost Dh500, will allow youngsters to be hired to work on projects for up to six months.