UAE | Employment

Want a job in UAE? Get police clearance

Employers asking for police clearance certificate from UAE job seekers to keep out dodgy candidates

  • By Faisal Masudi, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 March 8, 2012

  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • Photo for illustrative purposes only
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Dubai: Private companies are demanding a police-issued clean criminal record from job applicants in the UAE.

Those failing to produce police clearance or with a bad standing at previous jobs or colleges are weeded out by HR managers and job agents even if they are otherwise deemed ‘job-worthy'.

Employers and recruitment agencies told XPRESS on the sidelines of the Careers UAE job fair in Dubai this week that job seekers face closer scrutiny nowadays.

It is not clear why more companies are going to greater lengths to investigate applicants, but headhunters said the credit crunch had seen a rise in dodgy candidates "desperate to get their foot in the door".

Others said the procedures are "best practices" at big firms which smaller companies want to copy. Ammar Shehada, business development manager at recruitment firm, said: "The majority of employers are asking for police background checks, work references, academic documents or professional certificates after shortlisting potential candidates. Recruitment agencies must ensure they are forwarding the right candidates to employers by ensuring that whatever is mentioned in the CV is true, as we recruit human beings and not a piece of paper. Otherwise it's all a waste of time, effort, money and reputation."

‘It makes sense'

Mohammad Al Suweidi, managing partner of Dubai law firm Al Suweidi and Co, said the government requires employees to get police clearance. "This requirement of a police certificate of good conduct makes sense for the private sector because it safeguards the interests of employers. As an employer, it's my right to know that the person I am hiring has no criminal record. It's good practice. You wouldn't want an embezzler to handle your accounts."

Besides producing original education and employment history documents attested by officials, a police Certificate of Good Conduct is demanded by many private firms. They also make calls to former line managers and even past school teachers to see if the applicant had behaviour or attitude issues.

Referrals by prior bosses or education providers are cross-checked and validated, but more sensitive information is shared over the phone, a long-serving HR manager at one of the UAE's biggest conglomerates said.

"If there was a minor problem in the past, I really don't care. If it was serious, it'll get flagged up in the police or immigration checks," he said on condition of anonymity.

"With former line managers, they don't like to put things down in writing for legal reasons — the applicant could file a case, ‘why did you say these bad things about me?' So I call them up and we verbally discuss everything — why the candidate left or was terminated. There was someone we wanted to hire for a senior position where everything was looking good. But because of bad feedback, we didn't go ahead."

A manager of a leading job agency said on condition of anonymity: "You need to know what's the candidate's background, they could be a threat to the company.

"After the recession, there were many non-genuine applicants who wanted to hurt employers financially. There were fraudsters, fake referrals and fake documents. They were desperate to get their foot in the door.

"There is a real concern, and the demand for police certificates is on the rise. What you say about yourself should not contradict what the police say. But it's also happening because medium companies want to follow big companies' best [recruitment] practices. This is a sweeping trend, which is starting to take off across the board."

Another recruitment firm,, believes many applicants are becoming aware of the police background checks.

"They know about this; it's part of getting hired in so many companies and government departments. And why should they be offended or worried if they have nothing to hide?" said senior recruitment specialist Sami Al Zubaidi.

No immediate comment was available from Dubai Police.

Conduct certificate

Fee: Dh110 (expats); Dh60 (Emiratis)

Documents: Passport or Emirates ID, fingerprints

Time: Two-three working days

Location: Dubai Police HQ, near Al Mullah Plaza

Timings: 7.30am to 2.30pm

Also needed for: Immigration/ visa application for many Western countries, applying for government positions and for sponsoring maids

Comments (26)

Share your views
  1. Added 11:26 March 8, 2012

    I can understand this for the Government departments, but believe an Emirates ID should suffice for the private sector. An employer is free to conduct any background checks, however, it should not be at the expense of the employee. If we allow this, this may eventually become a requirement every year, or even every few months as no one knows when a person would turn 'bad'. On the contrary, I suggest that the job applicants start requiring the prospective employers to provide them a conduct certificate from the labour department confirming that the company was never involved in any serious labour disputes and there were no rulings made against the company in such cases.

    Menon, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 11:09 March 8, 2012

    Very good move from the UAE Govt; But the fees must be waived. It will surely help to control the crime rates; but fee of AED 110 is too high for low-end employees.

    basith, abu dhabi, India

  3. Added 10:55 March 8, 2012

    I have a very serious question here and would really appreciate if some experienced professional would answer this. My question is that when you call the previous employer or any other colleague or like that, what's the guarantee that the manager or the person the candidate was reporting to is not biased or jealous of the applicant's better future, package or prospects? There are several cases when even a small heated argument or disagreement on something makes a person so much prejudiced that he will never give the right and positive image of his or her subordinate. How will the hiring managers guarantee this? Or would they just believe in what the person on the other side of the phone is saying whom they don't know at all. I would also like XPRESS to write an article on the same as mentioned above. Moreover, what about the samll companies who never pay any heed to your requests to issue an experience certificate!!

    Ain, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 10:49 March 8, 2012

    Will the employees in return get a similar certificate about their employers/bosses conduct to guarantee and protect their rights as well?

    Anonymous, Anonymous, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 10:18 March 8, 2012

    I dont think this is the right move. The job market is already quite saturated and it will not improve if employers create more hurdles for candidates as it will only worsen the current scenario. It's true that those with a clean record have nothing to hide, but just the trouble to get yet another 'attestation' for who you is is a step BACKWARDS. Moreover, I do believe that people with a police record should be given a decent chance at regaining their social status. This is in the betterment of the society and to actually isolate them, would be a big mistake because they will have no option but to revert back to crime and 'embezzling' to feed their families. I hope all companies do not follow suit.

    Imran, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 10:16 March 8, 2012

    This is a way of making money. Someone should protest aginst this. It will kill us.

    Azad, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 10:16 March 8, 2012

    Why should people pay hundreds for an obligatory document they have to issue? I see always that any decision such as this aims only at making money!

    Ali, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 10:13 March 8, 2012

    I read this bad news for all. Why is the public harassed? One company offered me a job. I worked one month. When I had to go to india for visa change, they simply didn't send my visa. Please take actions against companies such as these.

    baba jani, Delhi, India

  9. Added 09:54 March 8, 2012

    It is highly ridiculous that employers want a cetificate and verify the behavioural attitudes from an ex-employer. Can the employer produce a certificate of good management practises? Can the employer produce a certificate that there are no politics and he is a fair employer? Can the employer produce a certificate that he has given freedom to his employees to perform well? Can the employer produce a certicate that he will pay salaries on time? Can the employer produce a certificate that he will not fire any employee because of whimsical reasons? Can the employer produce a certificate that he will not exploit his emploee and use him like a slave? No employer can do that but more than 80% of the employers are practising unfair management policies, harrassing their employeees on the so-called management terminology... Since the supply of labour is more than the demand, the management is exploiting the workforce like anything... and there is no one to ask.. there are no questions put across on an employer that how many exit cases are there and what were the reasons... we need to understand that no candidate would hide facts to get a job, a living

    Kiran, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 09:34 March 8, 2012

    It will be another burden for jobseekers like me financially, not to mention the time that will be wasted on getting this police clearance. Why cant companies initiate this by simply asking the concerned authority if the candidate has a record or not.

    Jobseeker, Abu Dhabi, Philippines

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