x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Firms face penalties over ID registration

Companies whose foreign employees do not register could face penalties similar to those given to firms employing illegal immigrants.

Individual Emirati citizens could be fined Dh1,000 if they have not registered for the biometric identity cards by the Dec 31 deadline.
Individual Emirati citizens could be fined Dh1,000 if they have not registered for the biometric identity cards by the Dec 31 deadline.

DUBAI // Companies whose foreign employees do not register for identity cards could face penalties similar to those imposed on firms that employ illegal immigrants, a senior official with the Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA) has warned.

Professional expatriates with university degrees who do not obtain identity cards by Dec 31 will be unable to access government services. After the end of 2010, companies employing a foreign resident who does not have a card will be treated as if they were hiring illegal immigrants, said Thamer Rashed al Qasemi, EIDA's planning director. Firms employing illegal workers could be fined Dh50,000 (US$13,613) per person for a first offence. Company chiefs could be jailed if convicted of further violations.

Individual Emirati citizens could be fined Dh1,000 if they have not registered for the biometric identity cards by the Dec 31 deadline. Mr Qasemi said firms employing unregistered Emiratis after that deadline "will be punished according to the law". The Ministry of Labour announced this month that more than 190 companies had been referred to public prosecution for hiring illegal workers so far this year.

Darwish Ahmad al Zarouni, the general manager of EIDA, said he wanted people to see the identity card scheme as being for their benefit and security. "Our main aim is to secure our nation and our people, and to make life simpler for them," he said. Meanwhile, hospital bosses laid to rest concerns that expatriates without ID cards would not be treated at Government hospitals. EIDA had stated that every Emirati citizen must have a card by Jan 1 or they would not have access to any Government services, including health care.

Doctors have said, however, that they would not turn away emergency cases. Jack Borders, the chief medical officer at Tawam Hospital in Al Ain, said his staff would not refuse to treat a patient in a medical emergency. "It would be extraordinary for us to turn patients away," he said. Al Qassimi Hospital in Sharjah also confirmed that it would treat emergency patients regardless of whether they had ID cards.

The chief executive and chief medical officer, Dr Alan Sandford, said the hospital would not turn away a patient who required immediate medical attention. "We will assess the impact of the policy change within our own organisation," he said. "However, if someone presents and requires urgent medical care, we would never turn them away. The biometric identity cards cost Dh100 for Emirati adults, and Dh50 for children under the age of 15. For expatriates, the cards cost Dh100 for every year left on their residency visas, to a maximum of Dh300.

gmclenaghan@thenational.ae munderwood@thenational.ae