The UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) has revealed new and more lenient rules regarding work permits.

Organisations with incomplete work permit registration or late renewals will now only face a maximum fine of Dhs2,000 per worker per labour card, whereas previously there was no maximum limit and fines could increase with each day the permit was not correctly processed.

Employers have 60 days from the date of entry into the UAE of the employee (or 60 days from the start of their new residency) in which to provide a work contract for the ministry. Failure to do so will result in a Dhs100 fine per day, up to a maximum of Dhs2,000.

Failure to renew work permits within a period not exceeding 60 days from the expiry date, incurs a fine of Dhs200 for each month, up to a maximum of Dhs2,000. The previous fine was Dhs500 for each month of delay, with no limit.

Saif Al Suwaidi, undersecretary for human resources affairs at the ministry, said: “The declaration suggests easing procedures for all organisations operating in the UAE. Therefore, all employers are required to comprehend to the opportunity and pay the proposed amount to operate lawfully.

“We want to stop organisations from acquiring more fines and, simply, help them sort dues and get them back on track,” added Al Suwaidi.

While this is good news for businesses, it may cause workers to worry about whether their employer will be under sufficient pressure to process their work permit as swiftly, if at all. But Sara Khoja, employment group partner at Clyde & Co LLP in Dubai, said that shouldn’t be the case. “Employers remain obliged to cover the costs of recruitment in full and to ensure employees are properly sponsored for work and residency visa purposes,” she said.

“Ultimately, if the employers don't get the required authorisations they would be employing people illegally, which would then mean a fine of Dhs50,000 per employee up to a maximum of Dhs5 million. So leaving the individuals without authorisation is far riskier.”

To avoid fines, employers should consider the length of time and bureaucracy involved in correctly obtaining work permits.

“Employers should be aware of the documents required to apply for authorisation to sponsor an employee for work and residency, including attested educational certificates – which can take up to three to four weeks to have attested in the country of issue and then in the UAE, for use in the UAE,” said Khoja.

“Another factor potentially affecting the delay in obtaining work permits and residency visas is the requirement for employers to use the Tawteen Recruitment Portal, which is designed to link unemployed UAE nationals with employers in the UAE.”

The DIFC and free zones operate a different system, but there are still fines for not processing work-related documents on time. “Free zones will impose a fine for failure to complete the sponsorship process within a required time frame – this is usually within 60 days of the individual entering the country on a work entry permit,” advised Khoja.

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