Low-paid workers to get free accommodation in the UAE

Low-paid workers to get free accommodation in the UAE
Migrant workers in the United Arab Emirates must be offered free accommodation, authorities demanded on Monday, in the latest move to tackle region-wide labour abuses.
2 min read
19 July, 2016
South Asian workers make up the majority of the UAE's population [Getty]

Emiratis who hire foreign workers will be forced to provide free housing to employees earning less than $540, authorities confirmed on Tuesday.

The rule will go into force in December, but is only expected to cover companies with 50 or more workers, the human resources and Emiratisation ministry said on Monday.

"Experts spent several months studying the living conditions of those workers, who have been listed in the ministry's classifications system as low-skilled labourers," Human Resources Minister Saqr Ghobash said.

The UAE, along with several other Gulf states have faced regular criticism for their mistreatment of migrant workers - particularly those form South Asians - who make up a large proportion of the expatriate workforce.

Authorities also threatened legal action against companies who fail to meet health and safety standards set by regular inspectors.

In October, the UAE announced a reform of its labour laws to be enforced from 1 January, aimed at curbing abuse and protecting the rights of millions of foreign workers.

Abu Dhabi announced changes to the country's controversial "kafala" sponsorship system that was criticised for putting too much power in the hands of employers.

When the changes come into force, foreign workers will have the right to terminate their contract and change their employer, once they receive authorisation from the labour ministry.

It also prevents workers being lured to the UAE by generous offers that are not met upon arrival by making a legal employment contract.