Employers face penalties for hiring illegal workers

Dubai, November 5:

Employers in the UAE, who recruit illegal foreign workers will now face fines of up to five million dirhams (over $1 million) besides jail terms officials said.

Col Naser Al Awadi Al Minhali, director of the Abu Dhabi naturalisation and residency department, has warned that anyone who hires illegal foreign workers will face stiff penalties according to Article 34 of the country’s penal code that stipulates imprisonment from three months to one year besides hefty fines, according to reports here. Employers of illegal workers and infiltrators and those who give them shelter will face a jail term and a fine of up to 100,000 dirhams per person, Al Minhali said. “The fine will be multiplied by the number of illegals, but will not exceed five million dirhams,” he added.

“The penalty for those who employ or provide shelter to illegal workers will be a minimum of 50,000 dirhams per person. A jail term and penalty will be imposed if the crime is repeated. The jail and fine is a must for employing or providing shelter to infiltrators,” the Gulf News quoted Al Minhali as saying.

The move comes close on the heels of an amnesty sch-eme launched by the UAE government, which allowed illegal foreign workers to either regularise their papers or leave the country. Over 340,000 illegal foreign workers, many of them Indians, availed of the scheme.

According to Major Rashid Khider, legal consultant to the ministry of the interior, illegal workers face even more severe punishments. “Each labourer who is caught working illegally would be slapped with both penalties — fine and jail term,” the Khaleej Times quoted Rashid as saying.

Urging both employers and workers to abide by the residency laws of the country, Al Minhali said that a draft bill on the new punishments against hiring or sheltering of illegals awaits the approval of UAE president Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

UAE’s minister for the interior Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan said that the cabinet decision to weed out illegal residents from the country stemmed from the UAE’s strategic policy to achieve sustainable development and provide UAE nationals and residents with the best possible standard of living.