Kathmandu, June 14 . Nepal and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed a memorandum of understanding on migrant workers amidst a special function in Geneva today. The Minister for Labour, Employment and Social Security, Gokarna Bista, and UAE Minister for Human Resources, Nasser Thani Al-Hamli, signed the MoU as per the standard of labour migration developed in recent time.
With the signing of the MoU, the previous agreements have been replaced. Secretary at the Labour Ministry, Dr Ram Prasad Ghimire, informed that the MoU has internationalized the changes occurred over time on the labour migration.”
It is mentioned in the MoU that as the fourth major destination country, the UAE is an attractive location for Nepal with over 50,000 workers migrating annually.
“We felt the need to revise the MoU since the last one was signed in 2007 and did not include many provisions that are worker friendly and also in the context of recent migrant reforms in Nepal and in the UAE as well as globally since both countries have endorsed the GCM,” stated the MoU.
A series of legal reforms were adopted by the UAE including finalization of an insurance fund from employers for stranded workers to be compensated from in a timely manner.
As per the pact, the employers will bear all the costs related to recruitment, employment and the residency of Nepali worker in the UAE including but not limited to recruitment agency fees, air ticket costs, insurance fees, visa fees, medical examination fees and all other recruitment related costs and fees.
Similarly, within its jurisdiction the UAE government will ensure that the worker does not have to pay any recruitment related costs and fees. The terms and conditions of employment of the Nepali worker in the UAE shall be defined by an Employment Contract between the worker and the employer.
The UAE government shall ensure that the employment offer shall indicate the job specifications, required qualifications, types of jobs for which recruitment is proposed as well as the terms and conditions of employment offered including wages, non-wage benefits, accommodation and transportation when applicable, end-of-service entitlement, and any other details required by the government of the UAE. All these details must be reflected unaltered in the employment contract.
Moreover, the MoU stated that the UAE government shall ensure the safety, security and welfare of the worker with due regard to the female worker. In cases of occupational injuries or diseases, employer bears the cost of treatment of the workers. Workers can hold his/her personal identification documents including passport at all times and he/she shall have freedom to communicate with any third party.
No unlawful discrimination
UAE shall uphold the rights of the worker in the UAE pursuant to its laws and ensure that the worker is not subjected to unlawful discrimination. The government of the UAE shall also ensure the worker receives fair and equal treatment compared to other foreign workers in the UAE on matters including wage protection, working conditions, grievance handling and access to justice.
The UAE further ensures extensive and close oversight over the application of the existing wage protection systems to monitor timely payment of wages and other benefits.
In case of a complaint filed by a Nepali worker or communicated through diplomatic channel, the UAE should ensure that effective monitoring and inspection measures to be taken in order to resolve the issue.
No unlawful treatment to workers
The Government of the UAE shall ensure that the Worker is not subject to any form of unlawful treatment and is free to communicate with any third party.
The UAE also ensures access to Labor Court for the worker without any cost until the case is resolved. When the case is in the court, the worker is entitled to apply for a temporary work permit in accordance with the relevant laws of the UAE.
The worker, as per the MoU, is eligible to seek and obtain alternative employment when it is duly established that the employer has failed to meet contractual or legal obligations to the worker due to any reason including closure or winding up of business or if the worker is subjected to violation of any of his/her rights under UAE laws, without prejudice to the right of the worker to collect his/her dues from the employer and/or seek judicial redress. In such events, the worker shall also have the right to return to Nepal if he/she so desires. In such case, the employer shall bear all associated costs.
30 days equivalent wage for additional years
Another salient feature is- the end of service gratuity is 21 days for the first five years and 3o days equivalent wage for the additional years along with a certificate of service. Expeditious repatriation of remains of worker at the cost of employment and timely settlement of wages, allowances and other benefits .
According to the MoU, a Joint Committee represented by both the countries will be set up to ensure proper implementation of the programme and to determine other key items associated with the worker’s recruitment, employment and repatriation including identification of all costs associated in the recruitment process, joint skills programs etc.