UAE Reforms To Protect Its Migrant Workers: An Overview

uae reforms to protect its migrant workers an overview

uae reforms to protect its migrant workers an overview

Last updated on February 20th, 2023 at 06:04 am

Abu Dhabi: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently reformed its federal labor law to protect the rights of its expatriate labor population. From changes in the recruitment process and new standards for living conditions to more detailed responsibilities when it comes to pay and staff redundancy – find out what these reforms mean for the country in this article.

Before Proceeding

In recent months, yes after the pandemic, you all must have heard the word “Hundi”. Have you ever heard about it? If you have both at home and abroad then you have to face it. You are following the worrying discussions related to the crisis of living and economic slowdown.

Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and even Britain is under the influence of an economic crisis!

Every country is looking forward to some good and long-term policies which can balance exchange rates, work costs, faster employment, and opportunities for women in the market.

But if I ask, Are they thinking about migrant workers too? The good conditions of the past few years would make it clear that it might be a bit too much to expect in this situation.

You can’t deny that the year 2022 is yes when most of us are in FIFA World Cup fever, but the times were dire for migrant workers-especially those from South Asia to the Middle East. According to a report published on International Migrants Day on December 18 last year, 63% of the 45,301 Bangladeshi migrant workers who returned home in body bags and coffins between 2008 and June 2022 died in the Gulf countries!!!

However, my mind is constantly telling me to turn this blog into a debate where we can ask about the connection between “hundi-migrants-and low forex rates”.

But I now leave a question for you about the UAE and its new expatriate policies, “I want to ask a simple question. What have we done for our migrant workers?”

Introduction: Overview of the Problem

It is estimated that there are over six million migrant workers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), making up around 85% of the country’s workforce. The majority of these workers come from Asian and African countries, and many are employed in construction, domestic work, or other low-skilled jobs. Due to their precarious legal status and lack of labor protections, migrant workers in the UAE are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse by their employers.

In recent years, however, the UAE has taken steps to improve the conditions for its migrant workforce. In 2017, the UAE ratified the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, becoming one of only a handful of countries in the world to do so. And last year, it introduced a new set of laws aimed at protecting migrant workers’ rights.

The most significant change under the new laws is the introduction of a “standard contract” for all migrant workers. This contract must be written in English and Arabic and must be signed by both the employer and employee before work begins. It outlines the duties and rights of both parties, as well as key information such as salary, leave entitlements, and working hours. Importantly, it also includes a clause stating that employees cannot be forced to work more than 48 hours per week – a major improvement on previous rules which allowed employers to require their staff to work up to 96 hours per week.

The new laws-

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Causes of Poor Protection for Migrant Workers in UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been under significant international pressure to improve the working and living conditions of its approximately 3.5 million migrant workers, who make up around 90% of the country’s private sector workforce. While the UAE has made some reforms in recent years, there are still many causes that contribute to poor protection for migrant workers in the country.

One major cause is the exploitation of workers by their employers through the kafala sponsorship system. Under this system, migrant workers cannot change jobs or leave the country without their employer’s permission. This gives employers a great deal of power over workers and leads to widespread cases of exploitation, including non-payment or delayed payment of wages, excessive overtime, and denial of leave.

Another cause is the lack of effective regulation and enforcement of labor laws by the government. Although the UAE has laws in place that are meant to protect workers’ rights, these laws are not always enforced effectively. For example, there is no minimum wage in UAE, which leaves many workers vulnerable to being paid very low wages. 

In addition, although UAE law requires that workers be provided with contracts specifying their terms of employment, many workers do not receive such contracts or are not given them in a language they can understand. This makes it difficult for workers to know their rights and limits their ability to assert them when they are violated by their employers.

Finally, migrant workers in UAE often face discrimination and abuse due

Recent Reforms Implemented in UAE to Address Worker Rights

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has implemented many reforms in recent years to improve conditions for migrant workers. These include the introduction of a minimum wage, improved health and safety standards, and better access to justice.

The UAE is home to over nine million migrant workers, many of whom come from Africa and Asia. These workers play a vital role in the country’s economy but have often been subjected to exploitation and abuse.

The UAE government has committed to improving the rights of migrant workers. In 2015, it introduced a minimum wage of AED 1,500 (US $400) per month for all workers. It has also implemented new health and safety standards and created a specialized labor court to hear cases relating to migrant worker rights.

These reforms are an important step forward for the protection of migrant workers’ rights in the UAE. However, more needs to be done to ensure that these rights are fully respected and enforced.

Impact of Reforms on Migrant Workers

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced a series of reforms designed to improve the working and living conditions of migrant workers in the country. These reforms come in response to international criticism of the UAE’s treatment of migrant workers, which has often been described as “modern-day slavery”.

The most significant reform is the introduction of a new law that will give migrant workers the right to change jobs without their employer’s permission. This will put an end to the practice of “sponsorship” whereby migrant workers are tied to one employer and cannot leave their job without their permission.

Other reforms include: giving migrant workers the right to keep their passports and other personal documents; increasing the minimum wage for migrant workers; improving health and safety standards for migrant workers; and increasing inspection and enforcement of labor laws.

The UAE’s announcement of these reforms is a welcome first step towards ensuring that all workers in the country are treated fairly and with respect. However, it remains to be seen how effective these changes will be implemented, and whether they will make a real difference in the lives of migrant workers in the UAE.

Challenges and Opportunities Moving Forward

The announcement of the UAE Cabinet’s plans to reform the sponsorship system and provide greater protections for migrant workers is a welcome development. However, challenges and opportunities are moving forward to ensure that these reforms are fully realized and that migrant workers in the UAE are protected from exploitation.

One challenge is the enforcement of the new regulations. The UAE has a notoriously weak track record when it comes to enforcing labor laws and protecting workers’ rights. There needs to be a robust mechanism in place to ensure that the new regulations are enforced and that employers who violate them are held accountable.

Another challenge is ensuring that migrant workers are aware of their rights under the new regime. Migrant workers are often unaware of their rights or afraid to assert them for fear of retaliation by their employers. There needs to be an effective outreach and education campaign to ensure that migrant workers know their rights and feel empowered to assert them.

There are also opportunities moving forward to further improve the situation of migrant workers in the UAE. One promising development is the formation of a Mubadala-led task force on labor standards, which will develop recommendations on how to improve labor conditions in Abu Dhabi’s private sector. This is a positive step, but it remains to be seen how effective this task force will be in promoting meaningful change.

Another opportunity is for Dubai to follow Abu Dhabi’s lead in reforming its labor laws and extending protections to migrant workers. If Dubai were to adopt similar reforms


This article has offered an overview of the reforms being made in the UAE to protect its migrant workers. The new policies that are being implemented and discussed show a significant shift in how the country approaches labor rights and human dignity. With more regulations, increased transparency, and greater oversight, UAE is taking steps toward creating a more equitable society for all foreign workers. Hopefully, these changes will bring much-needed relief to those who call this nation home while also inspiring other nations around the world to follow suit and create similar legal protections for their migrant labor force.

However, all these steps have to be restrained by one important condition – acceptance and understanding. Migrant workers are human beings with equal rights!!

Read More:- At Least 53 Killed While Truffle Hunting In Syria Attack Blamed On ISIL: State Media

About Freelance writer

As a passionate freelance writer, I delve into the intricacies of human rights, work-life balance, and labour rights to illuminate the often overlooked aspects of our societal fabric. With a keen eye for detail and a commitment to social justice, I navigate the complexities of these crucial topics, aiming to foster awareness and inspire change.

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