New law means students in UAE can now work part-time

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 20 Jul 2016

Influx of younger workers may encourage organisations to develop their internship programmes

National and non-national students aged between 12 and 18 are now allowed to work or train part-time in the UAE private sector.
 
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has ruled that if written consent from a guardian is given, students may obtain a work permit.
 
Permits are either temporary, part-time or juvenile, and cost Dhs500. Temporary permits can be issued for projects not lasting more than six months; part-time permits allow work for up to a year, providing the daily working hours are less than full-time; while juvenile permits are for students aged 15 to 18 who want to work for up to a year. Students must not work more than six hours per day and must have a break after a maximum of four working hours.
 
“The decree complements previous ones carried out in 2011, with regards to issuing temporary work permits for juveniles,” said Saqr Ghobash, minister of human resources and Emiratisation in a statement. “Students may be enrolled in private sector enterprises under those permits.”
 
It is expected that students will seek training and experience in the industries they later hope to work in after completing their studies. “The key will be to provide meaningful experience in key sectors,” said Professor William Scott-Jackson of Oxford Strategic Consulting. “For the UAE (and Qatar), leadership experience would be extremely valuable, as well as experience in the relevant strategic sectors, such as tourism.
 
The potential influx of manpower into the labour market is being seen as a positive. “Organisations will be more interested in adding to or developing their intern programmes,” said recruitment expert Trefor Murphy, CEO of Cooper Fitch. “I think it will create an opportunity for graduates and help further build the UAE as a hub for universities.”
 
There is some speculation as to which sectors will prove most popular for students. “It is difficult to predict where Emirati students will work. Our UAE Employment Report 2016 found that Emirati students between the ages of 18 and 30 were significantly more likely than their older counterparts to work in oil and gas or accounting,” said Robert Mogielnicki, head of PR and senior analyst at Oxford Strategic Consulting.
 
“Given the instability in the oil and gas sector, perhaps we may see more students heading toward fields like accounting. Although, it is difficult to imagine a 15-year-old student getting excited about spending their holidays crunching numbers. Ultimately, we would recommend that Emirati students are strategically placed in key sectors like tourism, hospitality, banking & finance and real estate.”
 
In the short term Mogielnicki predicted students will take on part-time, seasonal and low-skilled roles.
 
These specific types of permits are not available in other GCC countries. “The innovation in the UAE is that these regulations cover both nationals and non-nationals,” said Sara Khoja, legal expert and partner at Clyde & Co. “However, nationals are permitted in other GCC countries to work between the ages of 15 and 18 and the employer can register them with the Ministry of Labour and applicable social security authority.”
 
Additionally, any employee can work part time if they are granted a temporary work permit, said Khoja. The government has also ensured that any sectors deemed unsuitable or unsafe for youngsters to work in are categorised as such.