x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Electronic pay system delay

An electronic system to ensure workers are paid on time should reduce pay disputes but will take time to implement.

Saqr Ghobash, the Minister of Labour.
Saqr Ghobash, the Minister of Labour.

ABU DHABI // An electronic system to ensure workers are paid on time is expected to reduce pay disputes but will take time to fully implement, the Minister of Labour said yesterday. The Wages Protection System (WPS) will enable the ministry to identify companies that are not paying their workers on time, an issue that is a "top priority" for the government to address, Saqr Ghobash, the Minister of Labour, said at the launch of the system today. "It will take a long time to be fully integrated, we will implement the decision gradually," he said. Under the system, employers must choose an agent, either a bank, money exchange or financial service company, through which their workers will be paid. When wages are received by the agent the Ministry of Labour will be notified. Officials would not comment on the exact time frame for the introduction of the system. A ministerial order, specifying the the names of businesses which should participate in the system and outlining a timetable for when companies must comply, will be issued "shortly", said Humaid bin Deemas, an undersecretary at the ministry. Construction companies, which have a "high risk" of not paying on time, will be asked to sign up first, he said. Initially, businesses will be encouraged to sign up rather than forced. The introduction of electronic payments to more than three million labourers across the country has proven to be a complex task. A federal order on electronic payment was meant to be enforced from January 2008 but some companies have cited difficulties in finding banks willing to open accounts for low income workers as the reason for the delay in putting the system in place. To help roll out the system the ministry created a dedicated WPS office in October 2008. Once the payment system is in place the Ministry hopes it will help create stablity in the labour market, reduce labour disputes and reduce the practice of keeping large amounts of money at work sites. lmorris@thenational.ae