ABU DHABI // Low-paid manual workers with at least a secondary-school education can now move to a better job without their employer's permission, provided the new job pays at least the minimum wage for their educational qualifications.
The change extends a facility that has been available to professional employees since January, and was welcomed yesterday as a valuable contribution to increased mobility of labour.
It was disclosed by Saleh Al Jabri, the head of the establishments department at the Ministry of Labour, in answer to a query from an employer at a ministry open day.
"It depends on their qualification. If the worker has completed secondary school, they can get a job in admin for a minimum of Dh5,000; if they have diploma, then it would be Dh7,000, and for a bachelor's degree it is Dh12,000," Mr Al Jabri said. Skilled workers have been allowed since January to change jobs without a No Objection Certification (NOC) from their employer, but that change did not apply to unskilled and semi-skilled workers in the first two years of a job.
Now, if a worker in an unskilled or semi-skilled job is offered a new post that requires a secondary-school certificate or better - and pays the minimum wage for those educational categories - he can leave without clearance from his employer, regardless of how long he has been on staff.
In cases where no NOC is required, workers need instead to have their residence visa stamped by the ministry.
The move should make life easier for the large number of construction workers who are vastly overqualified for their jobs. Fahima Raoff, from Scorpion recruitment agency in Dubai, said it was not uncommon for labourers to hold university degrees.
"They have no choice but to come here for relatively low pay, because of poverty back home, " she said.