Dubai: The labour ministry has banned thousands of companies from bringing in new workers until they repatriate workers with expired labour permits, or renew them, a senior labour official said.
The official, who declined to be named, said the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs began yesterday automatically banning 15,000 companies from processing new labour permits, because they had expired labour permits older than six months on their records.
There are more than 250,000 people who have expired labour permits, and labour officials said they pose a security problem.
"The ministry took this move because companies that don’t renew labour permits are allowing people to remain illegally in this country," the senior official said.
While Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Dr Ali Bin Abdullah Al Ka’abi had called for such companies to have their transactions blocked last month, the official said ministry staff were still allowing them to hire new workers.
"The automatic block is to make sure nobody can let these companies hire new workers. They must deal with their expired labour permits first."
When companies have workers’ expired labour permits on their record, they are meant to renew it, or cancel their workers’ residency visas and repatriate them.
Labour officials say when the companies have not done either, it means they are selling labour permits, or that workers have run away, or the companies cannot be bothered to follow the labour law. The minister earlier announced a grace period, which ends on February 28. During the grace period, companies only have to pay Dh5,000 for accumulated fines from expired labour permits.