Sponsorship stays in Dubai

No plans to scrap existing rules in the UAE

A senior official at the Ministry of Labour has confirmed that the UAE has no plans to scrap the existing sponsorship system for expatriate workers, unlike Bahrain.

Instead, the authorities see the adjustment of existing labour laws to accommodate employees who've been made redundant but want to stay in the country and look for work, as the major priority, according to a report in The National newspaper.

The draft legislation to do this proposes a visa extension for those made redundant for more than the current one month. This measure has been submitted to the Cabinet but has yet to be passed, the newspaper reported.

Bahrain said on May 5 it would scrap its existing sponsorship system for foreign workers in the hope of reducing its need for expatriate labour.

Under the new regulations, foreign workers will be directly sponsored by the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) - the changes set to come in from August.

A senior official involved with policy creation at the Ministry of Labour in Abu Dhabi and referring to Bahrain's recent initiative said: ''If it is good in Bahrain it does not mean it would be good for us.''

Ministry of Labour sources at the offices in Dubai told the newspaper that there had been no dialogue with their Bahraini counterparts since the announcement.

They indicated that contacts between GCC countries regarding labour issues focused on the flow of workers from country to country - not issues affecting internal labour markets, the paper added.

''Ongoing discussions such as improving the flow of Arab workers within Arab states were discussed at last month's Arab Labour Forum in Jordan'' said one official in Dubai, adding that they were continuing with other Arab ministries.

Under the existing sponsorship regime an expatriate cannot change jobs without permission from his or her sponsor.

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