Dubai: Private sector companies will face legal action if they sack Emiratis who have not violated the labour law, according to a new decision by the Ministry of Labour.
The decision comes after Al Futtaim Group sacked a number of Emiratis. Al Futtaim Group had said they were terminated because the company was "restructured in light of the current global financial crisis."
The new ministerial decision, regulating the termination of Emiratis in the private sector, issued on Tuesday, stipulates that companies can only sack Emiratis if they have violated the labour law, such as non-performance of basic duties, committing mistakes, which result in substantial material loss for the employer.
In other cases, companies must go back to the ministry before sacking Emiratis. Companies that do not comply will face legal action and the ministry will enforce a ban on issuing them new work permits until a court verdict is passed, according to the new decision.
Humaid Bin Deemas, acting director-general at the ministry, said the new decision is aimed at outlining the rights and duties of both employers and Emiratis in the private sector.
"The decision is to regulate the termination of Emiratis working in the private sector. It does not deprive the employer of the right to hold Emiratis accountable for their low-performance," said Bin Deemas.
Any termination of Emiratis will be considered unlawful if the same job is given to expatriates in light of restructuring policies of companies.
"The priority for work is for Emiratis and this right is protected in the labour law," said Bin Deemas.
Ahmad Al Naqbi, one of the Emiratis, who was sacked by Al Futtaim Group, said the decision indicated the government's commitment to protect their citizens.
Feddah Lootah, acting director-general at the National Human Resource Development and Employment Authority (Tanmia), said this decision will curb the practice of some companies to exploit the current global financial situation to escape from their Emiratisation responsibilities.
The rule will cover 14,861 Emiratis who work in the private sector and are currently registered at the Ministry of Labour. It does not cover Emiratis working in semi-government companies.