Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Abu Dhabi: Free housing must be provided to workers who earn less than Dh2,000 a month from December onwards, the UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation announced today (July 18).

Companies across the nation with more than 50 workers must comply with the ruling, which was issued by Saqr Ghobash, UAE Minister for Human Resources and Emiratisation. He warned that regular inspections visits would be undertaken by the ministry to ensure compliance, and that legal action will be pursued against firms that fail to adhere to the regulation.

“Experts spent several months studying the living conditions of low-skill workers. The decision comes after these recent studies into the labour market,” said Ghobash.

Accommodation for workers in companies employing more than 500 people has been regulated by the ministry since 2014. The applicable standards cover details such as the location of the accommodation, the provision of hygiene and medical facilities, and the availability of safety equipment and protocol.

Low-income workers welcomed the new decree, saying that paying rent is often a massive drain on meagre incomes.

“I know of people who have to pay a huge chunk of their income to find some bed space or a shared room. Fortunately, my accommodation is paid for by my company,” Shajal, a laundromat worker from Bangladesh, told Gulf News.

Shajal, who earns about Dh1,000 and sends Dh700 of it home to support his family, said secure accommodation is a boon.

B.K., an Indian painter, also lives in a dedicated labour accommodation facility in Abu Dhabi’s Musaffah area.

“I am thankful for this accommodation as it is very difficult to find a room, especially because of the high rents. For example, sharing a room can set you back about Dh500, which is half my monthly income,” he explained.

Raj Praveen, a division manager at National Trading and Pharmaceutical Establishment, a trading company, said that many of the firm’s 2,000 workers live in accommodation located in Dubai’s Sonapur area.

“These workers earn very little, and having to pay rent makes things even more difficult for them. This ministry decree will therefore provide much relief,” he said.

“We provide both food and accommodation for our low-skill workers, and we believe that it improves their productivity and morale,” Rajpraveen added.

As reported by Gulf News, the minister had announced in January that companies which fail to provide labour accommodation short of international standards and requirements will not be granted new work permits.

“We want to ensure that labourers are not cheated of their rights, and that their living conditions are comfortable, sanitary and humane,” he had said.