Pakistan UAE MoU
Nasser Bin Thani Al Hameli, UAE Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation and Tahir Hussain Andrabi, Acting Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nation at the singing of MoU in Geneva. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Pakistan and UAE have moved forward to protect the rights of Pakistani workforce in the UAE.

Now, Pakistani workers coming to the UAE will have to undergo pre-departure and post arrival training and awareness sessions. They will also sign their job contracts before departing Pakistan and that will not be changed after their arrival in the UAE. This will curb the earlier practice of some employers exploiting the workers by offering them reduced salaries after arriving in the country.

The UAE and Pakistan on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to foster cooperation in the labour and human resources sector, according to a press release by the Pakistan Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

The MoU was signed by Nasser Bin Thani Al Hameli, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation and Tahir Hussain Andrabi, Acting Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, on the margins of the ongoing 108th session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva. Senior officials from both the countries were also present.

The MoU aims to institutionalise the collaborative administration of contractual employment of Pakistani workers in the UAE, through the use of information technology, the exchange of information and continuing studies in the area of labour.

Pre-departure and post-arrival training 

Under the MoU, Pakistan and the UAE Governments have decided to undertake joint collaborative programmes and activities, including pre-departure and post-arrival educational programs in pursuit of the objective of improving the administration of contract employment cycle.

In order to ensure legal and risk free working environment for Pakistani workforce upon arrival in the UAE, it has been decided that ‘Employment Job Offer’ will be signed by both parties prior to the worker’s departure from Pakistan.

That ‘Job Offer’ will clearly state the rights and obligations of the worker and employer. In addition, that Job Offer will provide the basis for the Employment Contract to be registered in the UAE.

Dispute resolution within six weeks

The MoU also deals with the dispute resolution between the worker and his employer in the UAE. As per the MoU, in case no amicable settlement is reached within 6 weeks of the complaint filed by the complainant, the complaint will be referred to the judicial authorities.

The two Governments have also agreed to establish a Joint Committee to implement this MoU. The Committee will meet regularly to monitor and evaluate/assess the implementation of this MoU.

Speaking to Gulf News, Mohammad Saeed Sarwar, Deputy Head of Mission at the Pakistan Embassy in Abu Duabi, said that the MoU is an important step forward in streamlining the contractual employment regime for Pakistani workers and protect their rights through institutionalized mechanisms.

He said that the MoU will be implemented by both the countries in near future, However, he did not give any time frame. “I must clarify here that that job contract signed in Pakistan between the employee and the employers cannot be changed after arrival of a worker in the UAE unless it is in favour of the worker.” According to the Embassy statistics, more around 1.6 million Pakisani expatriates live in the UAE.

He said that the MoU’s article related to dispute settlement is also very important as it would help reduce issues between the workers and employers.

He said that high level committee to be formed comprising of officials from both sides would continue to review the terms and conditions, and the progress in this regard in order to protect the rights of Pakistani workforce.

Moazzam Ahmad Khan, Ambassador of Pakistan to the UAE, had earlier told Gulf News that the minimum wage for any Pakistani blue-collar worker has already been fixed at Dh800 per month in addition to accommodation and health insurance

How UAE Labour Law protects workers' rights

According to Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE), the UAE Labour Law provides rules about safety and protection of employees of private sector and labourers.

The UAE has already passed several decrees to protect workers’ rights that cover recruitment, pay, housing and health. New labour reforms that took effect in the UAE on January 1, 2016 place tremendous responsibility on the employers for protecting the workers.

The new reforms focus on improving transparency of job terms and employment contracts, spell out how contracts can be terminated and make it easier for workers to switch employers.

Under the new policies, prospective workers will be asked to sign a standard employment offer in their home country that will in turn be filed with MoHRE before a work permit is issued.

That agreement will then be registered as a legal contract once the worker arrives in the country and no changes will be allowed unless they extend additional benefits to which the worker agrees. Either side will be able to terminate the contract, after which the worker will be free to switch to a new employer.