No more labor ban for UAE expat workers from January 2011

dubai expat labor ban

Expat workers in the UAE get three year employment contracts and visa. While some are happily working to finish, renew their contracts and go on working for the same company, there are expats who have left their jobs due to varying reasons such as poor working conditions, salary is different from what they are promised, terminated, etc. Residency here is tied to having a job so it’s already a burden not having a means to support yourself or your family, it’s worse when on top of that, you get a labor ban.

Labor/employment ban: is a six-month ban that prohibits an expat from being issued a new employment permit by his/her new employer. No employment permit = not allowed to work. The ban can be lifted by paying a hefty fee and transfer from one sponsorship to another. It also requires an NOC (No Objection Certificate) from the previous employer. No NOC = no transfer of sponsorship = no work.

I thought that was a very backward scheme and deters the UAE from hiring qualified expats who are already here but have been automatically ‘banned’ by the Ministry of Labor. Good news is, that labor ban could be a thing of the past from January 2011.

Hani Al Hameli, Secretary-General of the Dubai Economic Council (DEC) said

The new law will enhance labour flexibility and hence sustain economic growth. The new rules permit a worker to move from one company to another. They also ensure the private sector has motivated and skilled workers which means more flexibility and breaking the deadlock in the market towards an innovative and productive environment.

Also, current expats subjected to the six-month ban can now be issued new work permits from January even if they have not served the full six months ban.

BUT, there’s no fresh policy change without the vagueness and confusion. As mentioned in one news article,

Sponsors cannot force employees to continue to work for them if the workers do not wish to do so. If workers have quit before the completion of two years then they will NOT be issued labour cards until the two-year period is over.

I am in the understanding that without a labour card, it is illegal to work here. So does the new policy on ban lift only mean that expats who want to stay here better serve for two years (before switching jobs) to be on the safe side? Expats who have not completed two years but wish to change their jobs right now are still waiting for clarity.


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