New practice allows unused work permits to be replaced for free

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 6 Jul 2016

UAE businesses to benefit from changes to work permit rules by ministry for human resources and Emiratisation

Businesses in the UAE are now allowed to replace unused work permits free of charge, as long as the request falls within the six-month time limit. Previously, if a potential new employee turned down a job, the work permit had to be cancelled at a cost to the company.
However the changes, recently announced by the ministry for human resources and Emiratisation, mean that if a replacement employee is found within six months, a permit for the new employee is given for free.
“The ministry has decided to grant owners the ability to avoid charges for replacing unused permits and keep the quota when applying for new ones, which helps us provide better customer service, more efficiently, with fewer expenditures, while accommodating business interests and simplifying procedures,” said Humaid bin Deemas Al Suwaidi, assistant undersecretary for labour affairs.
“Previously, firms used to have a two-month deadline to approach the ministry and replace unused work permits after reapplying for a new quota; extra charges were included. However, in response to several inquiries for a deadline extension, the ministry has decided to extend the deadline to six months and drop the fees, on the provision that new employees are applying for the same position, and be of the same gender as the previous permit owner,” added bin Deemas.
The ministry’s data suggests that the new rules will drastically reduce administrative tasks for companies – 20,000 companies have replaced approximately 60,000 unused work permits during the past year, and 27,000 businesses have cancelled 68,000 unused permits during the same time frame.
Maria Manzoor, head of human resources at Ramboll in the UAE, is happy with the change. “I think this is an excellent idea which makes the administrative work behind hiring less cumbersome in the case of losing an employee who has not completed six months with the company,” she said. “Although very specific – in terms of gender and occupation – it does alleviate a lot of the legwork recruitment professionals have to perform when replacing an employee who leaves within a short period of joining. It is also a good cost-cutting measure for companies.”
To obtain a new two-year work permit there are three stages an organisation must go through. Firstly, the employer applies for a new quota, and then they must send the offer of employment to the worker electronically for signed approval. Finally, the signed job offer and other documents must then be sent to the Ministry, and, if approved, a labour contract will be issued. The contract must then be signed by the new employee when entering the UAE.
Companies that do not apply to replace unused permits within the six-month time frame will have their permits cancelled and will have to reapply for new permits.
The attention paid to work permits by the UAE authorities was highlighted recently when three businessmen were jailed for issuing fake permits to employees. Jamie Liddington, head of employment, Dubai, at Hadef & Partners law firm said: “It is advisable for companies to get their PROs to contact the ministry of human resources and Emiratisation to find out about such changes in practice.”