Expatriates soon to have only one identity card for all transactions. Picture for illustrative purpose Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: As Emirates ID registration of all foreign workers in the country has been completed, work permits, better known as labour cards, will be scrapped and replaced by the Emirates ID in the first quarter of next year, said a senior Ministry of Labour official yesterday.

“The move is part of plans to fast-track four million transactions — one million applications for new work permits, another million for renewal of these permits, a third million applications for new job contract and a million for renewing job contract every year — so that any transaction will take maximum 48 hours to complete instead of a minimum of 15 days at present,” said Humaid Bin Deemas Al Suwaidi, Assistant Undersecretary for Labour Affairs, told a news conference.

Al Suwaidi added plans for re-engineering of transactions, which will have no impact on fees, would ease the lives of more than four million workers in 250,000 private companies across the country, allowing workers and employers to obtain work permits and job contracts online and saving time and effort.

“The move will mean that an employer will submit only a job contract signed by both the worker and the employer to obtain a work permit online, in keeping with plans to make the UAE one of the world’s top five governments by 2021,” Al Suwaidi said.

Once labour cards are scrapped, millions of dirhams of penalties levied for failing to obtain, renew or cancel these cards, will be waived.

Government fees account for more than 57 per cent of the UAE budget revenues.

The Labour Ministry is the third largest revenue generator after the ministries of Finance and Interior, with revenues for this year are put at more than Dh3.5 billion.

It is also planned that the Emirates ID will also replace all other identification cards for the residents such as driving licence and health insurance card.

Al Suwaidi said that pushing towards a smart government would mean a customer-centred departments which provide efficient services.

Al Suwaidi encouraged workers, companies and other stakeholders to share their proposals an views on how to improve quality and efficiency of services being offered at present.

“We’ve received proposals to get away with job contracts, but these contract will only be developed within the framework of the labour law, others proposed a one-stop shop so that firms would deal with only the Interior Ministry to have their work permits, job contracts and residence visa completed in one step,” Al Suwaidi said.

Stressing that all these proposals and others will be addressed, Al Suwaidi vowed no effort will be saved to meet expectations of nearly 13 sectors and 2,000 professions in the private sector companies.

A one-year ban is currently being imposed on anyone who obtains a labour card with a company they are not really working for. A Dh1,000 fine is also being imposed for failing to obtain or renew labour cards after 60 days from the date the worker enters the country or from the date of the expiration of the labour card is for each month of delay or part thereof.