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Labour cards for UAE workers scrapped

New electronic work permits will replace the current system of labour cards from the beginning of 2014.

Abu Dhabi // Labour cards will no longer be issued and will be replaced by electronic work permits starting next year.

The Ministry of Labour said yesterday that the electronic work permit is part of a new project that aims at restructuring labour contracts and labour card procedures.

An average of four million transactions – both the issuing and renewing of labour cards and work permits – are being processed annually by the ministry.

The new move is expected to reduce transactions to half as the procedure for both labour cards and permits will be unified.

The project is in its initial phases but is expected to be implemented in the first quarter of next year.

“We need to discuss with the other stakeholders and hear their opinion and inputs on how this project can be best implemented but our direction is to scrap the labour card as there is no need for it with the existence of identity cards,” said Humaid bin Deemas, the assistant undersecretary at the ministry.

Labour cards have long been regarded as the main tool of identification for workers in the private sector but this changed after identity cards were made mandatory in 2011.

The move is also hoped to reduce the time of issuing work permits by more than 10 days. As per the new procedures, a worker is to be issued the right to work in the UAE within 48 hours, at present it takes about 15 days.

“The main objective of this project is to improve the quality of the services provided by the ministry,” said Mr bin Deemas.

“This new move will save the time and efforts of both companies and workers and, at the same time, help in unifying the procedures at the different government entities.

“We are seeking to develop a one-stop shop for our clients.”

At present, a worker must first apply for a work permit and then a labour card, but with the new procedure there will only be one work permit application, which is processed electronically.

The ministry also requires workers to submit copies of their medical report, passport, their labour contract, their entry permit and the company’s trade licence.

“This will all change. We will only ask for a copy of the labour contract, the rest of the information we have available in the database as we have an electronic link between us and the naturalisation and residency departments in the country,” said Mr bin Deemas.

The medical report will also cease to be a requirement for the ministry to issue a work permit.

Companies will still have to finalise residency procedures at the Ministry of Interior where medical reports are required.

“This medical report is an issue of safety, which we cannot disregard, and no one will be issued a residency without being cleared. But why should we duplicate the work between us and the naturalisation and residency departments? Instead we should complement each other,” said Mr bin Deemas.

The ministry will also redraft the format of the labour contract.

“The current format has been in place for more than 30 years while the country has continued to develop. A new contract which looks at new elements might be desired,” said Mr bin Deemas.


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