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New UAE mandatory labor training adds to delays, cost

New employment residence permit applicants in select professions must now attend an awareness session on labor regulations in the UAE, before their employment contract is approved by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE), according to Fragomen Middle East Immigration News.

This new requirement is in line with the opening of a number of ‘Tawjeeh’ service centers, designated by the MOHRE to offer guidance on rights and responsibilities of employers and employees prior to any contractual engagement. The process, however, does not apply to workers sponsored by companies in free zones.

Read: New regulations for UAE residence and visitor visas

Details of the awareness session

The awareness training involves a 1.5-hour classroom session with an informative video on UAE employment regulations, displayed in 16 different languages. Upon completing the training, attendees will be issued their labor contract and a mobile phone SIM card. The latter is meant to facilitate communication between the worker and the MOHRE. The training must be attended in person, at any of the 37 Tawjeeh service centers across the UAE and triggers a fee of AED 203 ($55). No prior booking is currently required.

Affected designations 

Effective October 2018, only new employment residence permit applicants in professional levels three, four and five of a new Emirati Vocational Classification scheme must attend the awareness session before obtaining their labor contract. It is expected that applicants in other professional levels will gradually be subject to the new process, including those in higher professional levels as well as those renewing their employment contracts.

Read: 5 ways to keep your office a positive space to work in

Emirati Vocational Classification

The new Emirati Vocational Classification scheme is a list of 725 occupations (the previous system comprised of 3000 professions) that are now used in the recruitment of workers in the private sector. It was rolled out in September 2018, affecting the employees in the Emirate of Umm Al Quwain; it appears that the system is now applicable in all seven emirates.
The new scheme comprises of nine professional levels (those currently affected by the new process are highlighted in red ink):



Professional level

Categories of occupations Number of designations
Level 1 Managerial positions, e.g.: Project Manager 83
Level 2 Professionals, e.g.: Accountant 183
Level 3 Technicians and associate professionals, e.g.: Purchasing Representative 114
Level 4 Clerical support workers, e.g.: Secretary 37
Level 5 Services and sales workers, e.g.: Cashier 63
Level 6 Skilled agricultural and fishery workers, e.g.: Horticulturist 16
Level 7 Crafts and related trade workers, e.g.: House Builder 111
Level 8 Plant and machine operators, e.g.: Drill Operator 63
Level 9 Elementary occupations, e.g.: Domestic Worker 55

Read: Flexible working to contribute $10tr to global economy by 2030

What this means for employers and foreign nationals 

Employers in the mainland must account for extra time necessary to obtain a new employment residence permit by applicants in select designations, due to a new step in the process (currently in levels three, four and five), as well as the additional cost associated with the awareness session and the issuance of the labour contract.

Foreign nationals must ensure that they are available to attend the training session as soon as possible in order to avoid delays in their immigration process.