Dubai: Firms can be exempted from replacing their secretaries with UAE nationals depending on the nature of the business, their working environment and their location, according to an administrative decision issued by the Ministry of Labour.

According to the decision, that comes into effect immediately, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Labour can exempt companies from emiratising secretarial jobs based on investigations by the ministry and the National Human Resources Development and Employment Authority (Tanmia).

The ministry issued a decision on June 25 which stipulated the emiratisation of secretarial positions.

"The ministry will be flexible in implementing the decision, as it will take into consideration the needs and concerns of companies, and therefore exemptions will be given to companies which do not have the appropriate environment to attract UAE nationals," said Dr Khalid Al Khazraji, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Labour.

The rule to emiratise secretarial positions will apply to companies that have more than 50 employees.

Companies that employ or train a national for the job for a year will be allowed to renew their employees' labour cards.

"The target of emiratisation is to create a variety of job opportunities for UAE nationals, rather than taking away jobs from expatriates," said Dr Al Khazraji.

According to Humaid Bin Deemas, Assistant Undersecretary of Ministry of Labour, about 9,000 secretarial and executive secretary vacancies will be created by the decision.

However, the ministry will notify firms applying for new work permits to contact Tanmia within 60 days to appoint a national, failure to do so will result in the enforcement of penalties.

The Ministry of Labour is laying down the classification of the secretarial and executive secretarial posts to be emiratised.

According to the circular issued yesterday by Dr Khalid Al Khazraji, Undersecretary of Labour, secretaries include assistant administrators, assistant executive secretaries and medical and legal secretaries.

Executive secretarial posts will include personal assistants to chief executive officers (CEO) and personal assistants to chairmen of boards of directors.