A new UAE law to ensure that women get paid equally as men for performing the same job in the private sector is not only a major boost for social inclusivity and female empowerment but also strives to ensure the protection of women’s rights and support their role in the process of national development.
The decision is in accordance with the Decree of the Federal Law No. (6) of 2020 issued recently by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, amending some provisions of an earlier federal law.
Whether it’s the induction of a number of women Cabinet ministers, the historic representation of women in the Federal National Council or an earlier decision to implement an equal pay law for men and women in the public sector, the UAE has always been a champion of gender parity in the Arab world.
The private sector in the UAE must learn from these experiences to be genuine and honest in their intent in enforcing the law
Last year, it jumped 23 positions to become the highest ranked Arab country in the 2019 UNDP Gender Equality Index, with a global rank of 26.
The implementation of the new law will therefore go a long way in helping the UAE achieve its goal of being among the world’s top 25 countries in that index.
Bridging the wage gap
The formation of the Gender Balance Council in 2015 and the launch of the Gender Balance Guide in 2017 have also played a major role in bridging the wage gap.
While the new law represents a significant step in attracting skilled and experienced women to the private sector workforce — especially Emirati talent — the onus now moves to private companies and businesses to ensure its quick and proper implementation.
The hard work for private sector HR departments has only just begun to eradicate any gender-based pay gap.
This includes addressing legacy issues not just restricted to pay disparity but also how women employees are hired and promoted in the private sector.
As the experience of countries such as the US and UK show, despite equal pay laws being in force for more than half-a-century there, the idea remains mostly a tokenism with reports of widespread discrimination in salaries, allowances and growth prospects.
Most pay-parity programmes continue to be used as marketing tools than to address the actual problem.
The private sector in the UAE must learn from these experiences to be genuine and honest in their intent in enforcing the law.
When properly implemented, the law will not only usher in a new era of equality in the workplace but also become a game-changer in boosting the UAE’s global competitiveness.