According to the Ministry of Labour students under the sponsorship of their university can now work legally.
Those students who are sponsored by their university are now able to obtain part-time employment with a Labour Ministry permit, according to the issuance of a new decree included in the labour laws of the UAE.
The regulations involving part-time employment were put into effect in 2011 and are targeting the exploitation of students by their employers, according to an official at the ministry.
In the past if a university-sponsored student over 18 wanted to work they needed to transfer their sponsorship over to the employer.
This decree on part-time student work permits was released in conjunction with the decree involving work permits for teenagers that allow those from 15 to 18 years of age the freedom to work in the UAE within strict guidelines.
Even before this decree it was found that students under the sponsorship of both schools and parents or guardians were employed part-time in temporary promotional positions that paid in cash.
Former student Ali Ahmad was involved in an employer exploitation case. He told Gulf News that many students come over to study in the UAE from abroad and need to work to make a living. According to Ahmad, many assume the UAE is similar to the western world where part-time work earns extra cash, but they wake up to the reality that to do so means undertaking it illegally and running the risk of exploitation.
Ahmad states that he is still owed nearly Dh 20,000 for the part-time work he put in at a free zone ad agency over a three-month period.
Many students end up signing temporary employment contracts that are fraudulent and fake without even realizing it, said Ahmad.
Officials at the UAE universities feel that this new decree will help to encourage employers to offer more positions to students.
Career Development Services manager Fouad Jasem of Middlesex University Dubai noted that employers used to be very hesitant to approach either students or the schools regarding part-time employment due to the legalities. Since the decree was issued Jasem has noted that many more employers are approaching the university regarding these positions.
Jasem stated that the careers department at Middlesex sees up to three postings for part-time work per day, in comparison to the internship posts that were seen only sporadically in the past. On the other hand, Mary Allison of the Canadian University of Dubai feels that this decree should cause the opportunities for student internships to grow. Allison is a Career Service officer at the university.
She stated that many businesses were willing to offer paid internships, although with students on school sponsorships that scenario was illegal.
At the DWC (Dubai Women’s College) this decree is seen as timely. The DWC has reported that interest in part-time work for students has risen dramatically within the Emirati student body that numbers 2,500.
Careers supervisor for the DWC, Rabiaa Bekhazi, stated that around 15 percent of the student body desires to have part-time work. She noted that this year is the first where the student demand has risen so dramatically, indicating that the students are maturing and now looking at moving towards employment.
Bekhazi noted that even though students around the UAE are eagerly looking for ways to earn money, the businesses in the Emirates may be lagging behind with the new concept.
Although student demand is growing, the market needs to respond with firms preparing tailored positions and employment packages through the HR departments, targeting this group of potential employees. There is still a lot of work for these companies to do in preparation of the part-time students, who are quite different from the mature employees, coming in to fill the positions.
Although the time is still early for gauging the responses of employers, students across the UAE are thrilled at the new decree.
An SAE Institute Dubai student, Sany Jab, noted that although employers may still lie and withhold pay, the students have come under the protection of the government and that is a good thing.
This part-time employment permit will apply to those that fit these four categories: resident employees holding down full-time work with a valid labour card; those who are co-dependent of their spouses for sponsorship, such as a housewife or a woman included under her husband’s sponsorship; residents 18-years-of-age and older; and those working with the government.
There is no job limit placed on those with the part-time permit. In the situations where a labour case is raised within the labour ministry courts, the issuance of a part-time permit from the government can be done despite objections from full-time employers or the residency status of the individual.Paul Holdsworth, Staff Writer, Gulf Jobs Market News