//UAE Ministry extends grace period for labour card fines

UAE Ministry extends grace period for labour card fines

By Diaa Hadid, Gulf News

Dubai: The labour ministry has extended its grace period on expired labour card fines for another week after a last minute rush.

Dr Ali Bin Abdullah Al Ka’abi, Minister of Labour had announced the grace period in January, for companies to pay Dh5,000 per expired labour card instead of Dh5,000 per expired card per year, which created hundreds of thousands of dirhams worth of fines.

Dr Khalid Al Khazraji, labour undersecretary, said the ministry will "replace lost working days" from the mourning period for Shaikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the Eid holiday.

Previously, senior officials said the grace period would not be extended, and said the company response was poor until this week, when the ministry extended working hours to absorb the last-minute rush.

So far, less than 100,000 expatriates on expired labour cards have renewed them or have been repatriated.

Labour ministry officials had estimated there were about 250,000 expatriates with expired labour cards before the grace period.

After the grace period ends, officials said they will introduce harsher measures on companies.

Ahmad Kajour, undersecretary for planning, said the ministry will halt transactions of all companies belonging to the same sponsor, if any of the companies has a worker with an expired labour permit more than six months old.

By April, Kajour said sponsors who did not pay labour ministry fines for expired permits will also have their transactions halted with immigration and Dubai’s Economic Department.

Kajour said it would help halt sponsors trading in visas. He said the weak response to the grace period showed many companies had traded illegally in visas, and could not account for workers.