Free Housing for Low-Wage Workers
A recent decree issued forth by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation stipulates that workers who earn less than 2,000 AED, about $540, per month will have to be provided free housing by their employers. The decree, however, will only apply to companies that employ 50 or more workers. Earlier, free housing was provided only to low-wage workers in companies that employed more than 5,000 workers. It will come into effect in the month of December this year.
Besides providing mandatory accommodation to low-wage workers, the ministry also clarifies that the provided accommodations must meet the standards laid down by earlier decrees. Labour accommodations housing less than 500 tenants must abide by the 2014 ministerial decree, while those that house more than 500 tenants must abide by the 2009 cabinet decree. To ensure that employers adhere to the set rules, there shall be regular checks and inspections. Adequate actions shall be taken against those establishments who defy or violate the laid down regulations.
Who will the beneficiaries be?
The primary beneficiaries of this decree would be the low-wage workers who come mostly from South Asia. These labourers form the bulk of the migrant workforce in UAE.
Middle-East, for long now, has come under attack from human rights groups, for their treatment of migrant and low-wage workers. Efforts such as this and their eventual implementation will go a long way in regaining the confidence of the workforce and building a healthy work environment.
Will it impact the market and push up costs?
Following the decree, there were concerns in some circles that it would push up demand and hence cause a spike in the worker accommodation costs. But experts have opined that such a case is unlikely, as most companies already provide housing to their lowest-paid employees. Moreover, companies are always in a better position to bargain and negotiate good rates, as they pick units in bulk.
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