UAE firms incentivised to employ more Emirate citizens

UAE firms incentivised to employ more Emirate citizens

The UAE is to cut some employment permit fees for private sector companies that exceed Emiratisation targets – that is those that employ at least 2% of Emirate citizens in their workforce.

This means that companies that go above and beyond what is legally required will pay only Dh250 (£58) for certain permits, rather than the standard Dh3,750 (£867).

The move is part of a new private sector company classification system that has just been introduced by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

Abdul Al Awar, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, said the new system will help the department assess whether firms are following UAE laws, including adhering to labour and wage payment rules, safeguarding workers’ rights and promoting diversity.

The new system has three categories. Companies that fulfil the minimum criteria will fall into the second category, while those that flout the regulations will be placed into the third. Those that exceed targets will be placed into the first category and receive a significant reduction in the cost of some permits.

Firms can progress to the first tier if they meet one of the following voluntary requirements:

  • raise Emiratisation rate three times above the 2% target;
  • comply with the government’s ‘Nafis’ project to train 500 Emiratis annually;
  • be a venture owned by a young Emirati; or
  • promote diversity in the workplace.

“Private companies [above 50 employees] hiring a maximum of 20% employees from a specific nationality will meet the standard of cultural diversity,” said Al Awar. “This will not only help companies get discounts on ministry service fees but provide them with more flexibility to attract talent.”

Fee reductions apply to a number of services that include issuing a two-year work permit, a one-mission work permit, renewing work permits and renewing contracts, all of which can cost up to Dh3,750, but companies that fulfil any or all of the new requirements will pay only Dh250.

Firms in the second category will pay Dh1,200 per permit and those in the third category will pay Dh3,450.

The ministry said it will work with companies on the new system and provide a road map for those wishing to upgrade their classification.


Government workers eligible for paid leave to start a business

UAE citizens working for the government will be entitled to paid leave for a year, up to half of their salary, to start their own business.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister, said approval was given for the scheme which is designed to encourage more young Emiratis to start their own businesses.

He said: “We are looking to encourage our young people to benefit from the major opportunities offered by our national economy.

“The sabbatical leave will be granted to an employee for one year to establish or manage any of the private projects he or she owns, provided that the purpose of the leave is to establish an economic project in the private sector or manage an existing project or participating with others.”

In September 2021, the Nafis initiative outlined its five main objectives:

  1. Create a partnership between the public and the private sectors and empower the private sector to become the key driver of the UAE’s development journey.
  2. Increase the competitiveness of the Emirati human resources and enable nationals to occupy 75,000 job opportunities in the private sector over the next five years.
  3. Create equal job opportunities in the private sector to attract nationals.
  4. Foster the attraction of job opportunities in the private sector.
  5. Provide coaching, professional training, mentoring services and counselling to attract Emirate workers.

In February, Sheikh Mohammed announced the launch of a new drive to boost the Emirati workforce in the private sector. As part of the plan, the government will provide “additional incentives” for companies supporting the employment of citizens.

Businesses can post jobs and Emiratis can apply for positions at