x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

FNC members want early female retirement in the UAE

Members believe reversing a 2007 law that set a 20-year threshold would cut unemployment.

ABU DHABI // FNC members will tomorrow call on the Government to reverse an increase in the retirement age for women imposed just six years ago.

In 2007, the law was changed to require women employed by the Federal Government to work for 20 years before retirement, rather than the previous 15. However, since then there have been repeated calls to reverse it.

Mossabeh Al Kitbi (Sharjah), said the justification for the 2007 change was that it would "help retain expertise in the job market".

"But this we see is not a valid excuse and is not logical," he said.

He will ask Obaid Al Tayer, who is both the Minister of State for Financial Affairs and head of the General Authority for Pensions and Social Insurance, to revert to the previous 15-year requirement.

Mr Al Kitbi said many women had complained to him about having to work for 20 years.

"This will also help reduce unemployment, as someone else will be able to take a retired woman's position," he said. It would also help women to "raise their own children themselves rather than relaying on a maid".

Early retirement would not be compulsory, he said. Before retiring, women would spend six months training their replacements. Since 2000, female Abu Dhabi Government employees have been able retire after 15 years of work. "We want this in all emirates," said Mr Al Kitbi.

Since 2007, FNC members have repeatedly called unsuccessfully for the retirement age for women to be reduced.

Mr Al Tayer will also be asked by Dr Abdullah Al Shamsi (Ajman) for a better way of registering pensioners and about increasing pensions for under-secretaries, managers, and employees.

Ali Al Nuaimi (Ajman) will then question the Minister of State, Dr Maitha Al Shamsi - who is also head of the Marriage Fund - about what the Government is doing to encourage Emirati men to marry Emirati women.

He applauded Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, for leading by example to encourage group marriages. In the past month, three Sheikhs - including Sheikh Mohammed's son Dhiyab - were married in group ceremonies alongside other citizens.

During last week's session, Dr Amal Al Qubaisi (Abu Dhabi) told the council that group weddings helped reduce the financial burden of marriage, which in turn reduced the number of women who failed to marry.

"The council salutes Sheikh Mohammed for setting an example," she said. "The council is happy with social programmes to ensure the stability of society."

Group weddings were catching on not just in Abu Dhabi but other emirates, Mr Al Nuaimi said. But more were needed. "The Marriage Fund has strategic objectives on their website, one is to encourage Emirati men to marry Emirati women," he said.

"My question for them is what have you done until now to accomplish this objective."

Only those earning Dh20,000 a month or less receive financial aid from the fund. That, she said, pushed those earning even slightly more to marry foreigners, who are less likely to demand a large dowry.

"For Emiratis who do not get the grant, what has the fund done to encourage them to marry Emiratis?" he asked.

During the second half of the session, Mr Al Tayer will discuss the 2011 federal accounts. It will be the first end-of-year accounts passed to the council under the new zero-based-budget rules. They require all ministries to submit detailed budgets and are intended to allow accounts to be presented with no deficit.

The council will end the session by appointing members to the new Human Rights Committee. The public session will be held at the FNC headquarters in Abu Dhabi.

osalem@thenational.ae