The UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation ("MOHRE") recently issued new implementation rules with respect to Article 14 of the UAE Federal Labour Relations Act No. 8 of 1980, known as the “Emiratisation Program – Tawteen,” which was first issued by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Under the new rules, employers must take steps to confirm that no UAE national registered in Tawteen Center’s unemployment registry (the UAE’s national unemployment registry) fits the criteria and work needs for the role, provided that UAE nationals are available and interested in taking up the role. Prior to these rules, the UAE’s emiratisation program was in practice mostly applicable to the public sector and to public procurement projects.
The new rules are applicable to all companies registered in all the Emirates of the UAE regardless of their corporate form, business or number of employees, with two notable exceptions: free zone companies and offshore companies operating in the UAE. As further detailed below, the MOHRE also reserves the right to grant additional exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
Any employer applying for an expatriate work permit must first schedule an "Open Day" from the calendar provided by Tasheel. The MOHRE would then arrange for a number of candidates to be interviewed during that day. Employers must assign a dedicated employment officer to attend the interviews and make decisions related to the recruitment process. The interviews would take place at the Tawteen Center.
During the Open Day, employment officers must categorize the candidates as "selected," "shortlisted" or "rejected."
- Selected candidates must be able to complete the recruitment process at the Tasheel Center.
- Shortlisted candidates must receive a decision within 10 days (the time required to complete the recruitment process).
- Employers must provide a valid reason for candidates rejected for the role. If all of the candidates are rejected and valid reasons have been provided for each rejection, the Tawteen Center will close the job vacancy in its system and move it that same day to the Tasheel system, at which point employers can then proceed with the recruitment of an expatriate employee for the relevant roles on the following day.
In order to support the implementation of this program, employers must post their job vacancies in advance at the Tawteen Center by having their dedicated employment officers visit the center from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (Sunday through Thursdays, being the weekdays in the UAE).
The MOHRE has advised that an exception to the new rule may be given on a case-by-case basis, including to branches of foreign companies operating in the UAE if the foreign company wishes to appoint an employee residing in its country to work in its UAE branch. The following documents must be submitted to the MOHRE for an exemption request to be processed:
1. Copy of the Dubai branch's commercial license
2. Request letter by the Dubai branch requesting the exception
3. Passport copy of the employee
4. Proof of residency of the employee in the foreign country
5. Employment contract/offer letter issued by the foreign company to the employee with respect to his or her prospective employment in the Dubai branch