UAE workers
Decree No.6 of 2019 also prohibits discrimination in jobs with same functions Image Credit: Pexels

Abu Dhabi: New rules have been introduced to the UAE labour laws to promote equal opportunity and prohibit discrimination in the workplace, according to a new decree by the President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Shaikh Khalifa has decreed changes into the UAE labour laws to protect equal opportunities and access to the labour market.

The Decree, issued on August 29 and published in the official gazette, provides that it is prohibited to discriminate between persons which would weaken equal opportunities or prejudice equal access to and continuity of employment and enjoyment of their rights.

Decree No.6 of 2019 also prohibits discrimination in jobs with same functions. It provides that the Minister of Human Resources and Emitratisation will issue decisions regulating the work in which the employment of workers of both sexes is prohibited.

Under the new rules, which will be enforced one month after publishing in the official gazette, an employer may not discriminate against an employee based on her pregnancy.

“The employer shall not terminate the service of the working woman or give her notice thereof because of her pregnancy. In this case, the termination of service shall be considered arbitrary under article 122 of the Labor Law,” according to article 30 repeated of the UAE Labour Law.

Last year, the Cabinet has passed a new draft law to ensure that men and women receive equal pay for equal work.

Women’s empowerment and gender equality is a key target in the UAE’s national strategy, aimed to be achieved by 2021.

Iceland ranks first on the World Economic Forum’s 2015 global gender gap index, followed by fellow Nordic nations Norway, Finland and Sweden.

The UAE aims to be among the world’s top nations in women’s empowerment and gender equality, officials and academicians said.

Women represent more than 65 per cent of the Emirati workforce in the federal government

Azza Sulaiman Bin Sulaiman, a former member of the Federal National Council from Dubai, said the UAE is a model for women’s empowerment and gender parity regionally and internationally.

In 2015, the UAE Council for Gender Balance was established to position the country among the leading countries in the world in terms of gender parity.

Bin Sulaiman said the UAE’s record in women empowerment and gender equality is quite striking and that the country offers a positive home-grown model for women’s development and empowerment for the entire world.

Dr Mona Al Bahar, professor at the UAE University, said how women’s development and gender equality are only one of the UAE’s progressive policies, which promotes harmony and tolerance and makes the UAE a place of hope and opportunity for the rest of the region.

Gender equality in UAE
Women representation in the Federal National Council stands at 50 per cent.Women make up 66 per cent of public sector workers, and 30 per cent of them are in leadership roles.

Women aged 15 years and above constitute 46.6 per cent of UAE’s labour force.

Women occupy about 75 per cent of positions in education and health sectors.

The UAE has eight women ministers, making it one of the highest rates of ministerial representation in the region.
Ninety-five per cent of female high school graduates pursue higher education.

The UAE ranked first in the 2015 World Economic Forum report on the literacy rate indicator and on women’s enrolment in secondary education index.

The UAE ranks first among 132 countries in the ‘women treated with respect’ indicator in the Social Progress Index 2015 report.

The UAE ranks first among 132 countries in the ‘women treated with respect’ indicator in the Social Progress Index 2015 report.The number of Emirati women in the diplomatic and consular corps at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation’s headquarters is 175.

Additionally, 42 women work in the diplomatic corps at the UAE missions abroad. There are currently four women ambassadors in the diplomatic corps at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

UN Convention

The UAE signed the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 2004. The convention is described as an international bill of rights for women and recommends that member countries to establish a monitoring mechanism to ensure the enforcement of legislation requiring employers to provide equal pay for work of equal value.