Dubai: In a bid to boost mobility in the labour market, employees with fixed-term contracts will have the freedom to move to a new job once their contract has expired, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation said on Saturday.

Free mobility of workers are part of guidelines and conditions of new ministerial decrees enacted early this year.

The announcement came after the conclusion of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue forum, a multilateral forum of Asian labour-sending and receiving countries held in Dubai on May 11 and 12. The forum discussed internal mobility as a way of providing better bargaining rights to workers while protecting their human rights.

During the meeting, Humaid Bin Deemas Al Suwaidi, Undersecretary of the ministry, gave a presentation on the evolution of labour mobility policies from 1983 until this year when new decrees promoting labour mobility came into effect. “New work permits will be granted to an employee at the end of his fixed-term contract, which allows him to move to other organisations if he chooses,” Al Suwaidi said, adding that the new decrees promote transparency by “sending a potential employee the terms and conditions of his job offer before he departs his home country”.

A unified contract, called the Standard Limited-Term Employment Contract, was drafted as part of the three new decrees that are expected to improve regulation and transparency of the labour market.

All employees across the country are presented with the unified, standard employment offer, which contains clear and enforceable terms and conditions of employment, prior to their entry into the UAE.

According to the official, the new laws will protect the interests of both employer and employee and will stabilise the labour market.

“The preliminary statistics prove the positive impacts of the new laws on the local labour market. There has been a higher number of workers moving between organisations in the UAE in the first quarter of this year when compared to last year,” he said, adding that the new laws are reducing labour disputes that fall within fixed-term contract employment.

“Recognition of the skills of a worker is a very important step towards encouraging them to go for additional and new skills training that is an important asset for facilitating internal mobility,” he said.

The UAE has an aggregate work force of 4.2 million and a majority of them are from Asian countries. From 2011 to 2016, the UAE government has passed several ministerial decrees to relax the restrictions on mobility of foreign workers.

Labour reforms

Ministerial Decree 764 of 2015 on ministry-approved standard employment contracts states that a worker must be presented with an employment offer that conforms to the unified contract and then must be signed by the worker.

Within Ministerial Decree 765 of 2015 on terminating employment, a series of articles outline conditions when a contract can be terminated for term and non-term contracts.

Under Article 1 of Ministerial Decree 766 of 2015, rules and conditions for granting a permit to a worker for employment by a new employer must meet a set of new rules, the ministry said.

Additionally, the third decree sets out terms and conditions of granting new work permits to workers who choose to end a working relationship with their employers.