The situation

New employment residence permit applicants in select professions in the United Arab Emirates must now attend a training session on labor regulations in order to obtain an employment residence permit.

A closer look

  • Applicants affected. Currently, only new employment residence permit applicants in professional levels three (technicians and associate professionals), four (clerical support workers) and five (services and sales workers) of the new Emirati Vocational Classification scheme must attend the training session before obtaining their labor contract.
  • Training session description. Following a mandatory 1.5 hour in-person classroom session, attendees will be issued their labor contract and a mobile phone SIM card meant to facilitate communication between the worker and the MOHRE in case of employer issues. Applicants can attend a session at one of the 37 Tawjeeh service centers across the United Arab Emirates for a fee of AED 203. Advance scheduling of the session is currently not required.
  • Exclusion. The training session requirement does not apply to employees sponsored by companies in the free zones.

Background

  • Expanded worker rights. This new requirement is in line with a trend to expand foreign workers’ rights in the United Arab Emirates. Other examples of events indicating this trend include the introduction of a new worker’s insurance scheme, the implementation of a pre-arrival visa process for select nationalities (a consular process), and changes in the company classification system.
  • New worker classification scheme. The new Emirati Vocation Classification scheme, introduced in September, is a list of occupations that employers can choose from when recruiting local and foreign workers in the private sector in the United Arab Emirates. Though the scheme was initially introduced only for employees in the Emirate of Umm Al Quwain, now it applies in all seven emirates. The scheme lists 725 occupations (whereas a previous similar system included 3,000 professions), subdivided into nine professional levels. Three of the professional levels are currently affected by the new training session requirement.

Impact for employers

Employers in mainland UAE must account for the extra step necessary to obtain a new employment residence permit for affected applicants, as well as the additional time and cost associated with the training session and issuance of the labor contract.

Impact for foreign nationals

Affected employment residence permit applicants will need to attend the training session as soon as their employer prepares an employment contract for submission to the MOHRE.

Those that fail to attend the training session will not be issued an employment contract and therefore will not be able to proceed with obtaining an employment residence permit.

Looking ahead

The new training session requirement is anticipated to apply to foreign nationals in other professional levels in the future, including those in higher professional levels and those renewing their employment contracts. Fragomen will provide updates as soon as further information becomes available.