x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Minister defends worker payment laws

Two labour laws that guarantee the payment of workers complement rather than contradict each other, the labour minister has insisted.

ABU DHABI // Two labour laws that guarantee the payment of workers complement rather than contradict each other, the labour minister has insisted.

FNC member Salem Ben Huweiden (Sharjah) asked Saqer Ghobash on Tuesday about the bank guarantee the ministry requires from employers for every worker brought into the country.

Under the practice, employers pay the ministry a Dh3,000 guarantee for each expatriate worker. In the event of non-payment of wages, the ministry can then use this money to pay the worker. When the worker leaves, the company gets the money back.

However, the ministry has also introduced a system that requires private companies to pay workers' wages directly into the banks - which has led some to suggest the bank guarantee is no longer needed.

Mr Ben Huweiden said the Dh3,000 guarantee "places a financial burden on national companies and contributes to inflation ... so why is this amount being sought?", he asked.

The minister replied: "First of all, the two systems are different legislatively and have different goals."

While the Dh3,000 guarantee covers non-payment of wages, he said the goal of the wages protection system was to make sure employers pay wages on time. "The two systems complement each other and there are no double standard problems," he said.

Rashid Al Shuraiqi (RAK) asked the acting health minister, Dr Abdulrahman Al Owais, when Masafi Hospital would be completed.

"The Ministry of Health only started the first phase of the project last July, so when will it be ready?" he asked in a written question.

Dr Al Owais, however, was not required to respond because the member who asked the question was absent.

Another question directed to Dr Al Owais asked why there was no federal law on organising comprehensive health insurance for Emiratis, noting that such services needed to be upgraded. The acting minister said the issue was with the Ministry of Finance's legislative committee.

Two other questions addressed to the Minister of Financial Affairs, Obaid Al Tayer, went unanswered because the minister did not attend and did not send a written reply.

hdajani@thenational.ae