A Pioneering Experience in Protecting Workers’ Rights

  • 19 May 2013

The mechanism that the UAE has put in place for labor rights protection has elicited interest across various countries and provides a legal and legislative framework through which labor rights are regulated. This was the conclusion reached at the international conference on ‘Labor Mobility-Enabler for Sustainable Development’, which was held at the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) recently. Leading government officials and international experts, working on labor mobility and its impact on development, participated in the conference.

Ambassador Eva Akerman-Borje, Head of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), Government of Sweden, noted that the UAE has the most effective mechanism and the comprehensive initiatives to provide laborers and migrants with health and education services. This is done by following a wage-protection system that guarantees the transfer of laborers’ salaries directly to banks and keeps a tab on non-compliant companies. The UAE’s labor rights protection experiment has become a leading example for the region and beyond because it is fully integrated. It provides legal guarantees for ensuring laborers’ rights vis-à-vis employers/companies, such as the aforementioned electronic wage protection system.

These rights are guaranteed by the Government as per internationally-accepted standards in terms of decent housing and comprehensive medical care. Moreover, an electronic online labor contract endorsement system is followed to provide maximum protection and fully inform laborers about their rights before they return home. The UAE labor market is very flexible and laborers are allowed to change jobs with ease as long as local laws are followed. This has a positive impact on the economy as employers are encouraged to improve working conditions and utilize human resources in the best possible manner.

Mechanisms have also been put in place to ensure that the labor laws are not violated and labor court verdicts are delivered in keeping with highly transparent rules. Several such verdicts have helped laborers win rights from their employers. The Ministry of Labor has set up a labor inspection authority to ensure that legal and humanitarian norms are followed and violators are fined. These guarantees prove that the UAE has a comprehensive framework for preserving laborers’ rights, which makes the country a leading example of labor-related legal and legislative practices.