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Dubai: Companies in the UAE’s private sector have up till the end of this year to meet Emiratisation targets in terms of staff recruitment, as part of the Nafis programme.

Ahead of the end-of-year deadline, the UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) is conducting an awareness campaign to educate business owners about the programme as well as warn them against falsifying Emiratisation numbers in their company.

If you are a business owner in the UAE who is still not sure about the Emiratisation targets your company needs to achieve and what are the benefits of participating in the Nafis programme, here is all you need to know.

What is the Nafis programme?

'Nafis', which literally means ‘compete’ in Arabic, is a federal programme to increase the competitiveness of Emirati human resources and empower them to occupy jobs in the private sector. Launched as part of 'Projects of the 50', the programme aims to accelerate the UAE’s development journey and boost the economy.

Under the Nafis programme, the UAE will spend up to Dh24 billion to employ 75,000 Emiratis in the private sector over 2021 to 2025. It aims for Emiratis to hold 10 per cent of the UAE’s private sector jobs by 2025.

One of the 13 targets of the Nafis programme is to set a recruitment target, beginning with a base of two per cent Emiratis, with the scale rising across five years to reach a 10 per cent Emiratisation target in private sector companies, by 2025. The jobs given to UAE nationals have to be in knowledge and skilled roles.

What is the Emiratisation target for companies?

Private companies with at least 50 employees have to meet their two per cent Emiratisation target before January 2023 to avoid the monthly contributions for the number of Emiratis the company has failed to employ.

How do companies benefit from it?

Companies that join Nafis enjoy the following benefits:

- Reducing the financial burden of employing Emiratis by providing pension rebates.
- Increasing the private sector’s attraction to Emirati nationals through child allowance scheme, apprentice programme, and salary support scheme.
- Upskilling Emirati nationals with educational degrees to meet the private sector’s skill requirements.
- Enabling the search for national talents in a single centralised platform –
- Fostering the company’s in-country value (ICV) index.

What is the In-Country Value (ICV) Index?
The National In-Country Value (ICV) Programme is a UAE government programme that aims to boost the country’s economic performance and support local industries. The programme is part of ‘Projects of the 50’.
A company’s spend that remains within the UAE or contributes to the UAE is calculated and considered as ‘In-Country Value’.
Companies with an ICV certification will benefit from the programme as it is aimed at increasing demand of local goods and services, promoting local capabilities and attracting foreign direct investment towards the local industrial sector.

What are the fines to keep in mind?

On November 15, it was announced that MOHRE and the Emirati Competitiveness Council, which manages the Nafis programme, had started implementing Cabinet Resolution No. 95 of 2022 regarding violations and administrative penalties related to the initiatives and programmes of Nafis.

These are some of the fines that companies and employees face due to violations or non-compliance.

1. Starting January 1, 2023, those who fail to comply with the Emiratisation targets for their company will have to pay Dh6,000 per month for each Emirati who is not employed.
2. For false Emiratisation, or submitting incorrect documents or data to obtain Nafis benefits to circumvent Emiratisation – Minimum fine of Dh20,000, maximum fine of Dh100,000 on the company for each Emirati employee.
For the Emirati employee, the financial support will be ceased, and they would need to return any benefit they have received.
[Note: As the Nafis programme includes supporting Emirati employees as well as hiring companies with various benefits, any violation will lead to relevant action against both beneficiaries.]
3. If the candidate benefitting from Nafis is not employed, after a work permit is issued and the company benefits from Nafis – fine of Dh20,000 on the company for each Emirati employee, suspension of benefits, and a refund of the amounts disbursed to the company.
4. The employee benefitting from Nafis shows non-commitment to work – fine of Dh20,000 on the company for each Emirati employee, suspension of benefits, and a refund of the amounts disbursed to the company.
5. The employee benefitting from Nafis does not come to work and the company does not inform Nafis about it – fine of Dh20,000 on the company for each Emirati employee, suspension of benefits, and a refund of the amounts disbursed to the company.
6. If the company fails to inform Nafis of any change in the employee’s benefits without an excuse accepted by Nafis – fine of Dh20,000 for each case, freezing of employee’s financial support and return of any support that was extended.
7. If the company breaches its obligation to appoint the candidate after the end of the Nafis-backed training, without an excuse accepted by Nafis, the company shall return the amount received as support during the training period.

MOHRE fines companies
On November 18, MOHRE announced that it had referred a private company to the Public Prosecution for deducting money from the financial support allocated as part of the Nafis programme for Emirati trainees.
MOHRE called on Emiratis working in the private sector and members of society to report any violating practices in the labour market, through the Ministry’s app – ‘MOHRE UAE’ – or by contacting the Ministry’s call centre on 600590000.

What is my company’s recruitment target?

If you are not sure about the recruitment targets that are applicable to your company, you can reach out to the Nafis customer service centre on 800 NAFIS or 800 62347.