Blue-collar workers from India will now be able to review the terms and conditions of their future employment in the UAE online under a new deal signed by the two countries.
The move, which will see labourers contracts attested online prior to their arrival in the Gulf state, is the latest in a series of measures aimed at reducing the number of unscrupulous recruitment agencies.
“The process aims to increase transparency in recruitment and reduce contract substitution, an illegal practice in which a worker signs a contract before leaving home, but is told to sign another contract on arrival in the UAE, with less pay and longer hours,” the UAE’s state news agency WAM said in a statement.
Labourers’ contracts are currently stamped and attested by the Indian Protector of Emigrants and the Indian Embassy, leaving agents free to make separate, fake contracts.
Under the new legislation, blue-collar workers will be required to approve their contract at an Indian-government accredited agent before it is signed off by Indian authorities. The contract is then registered with the Ministry of Labour in the UAE, who will then issue a work permit.
The UAE is home to an estimated 1.75m Indian expatriates, the largest group of foreign workers in the Gulf country.
Many labourers arrive in the UAE heavily indebted after being charged hefty recruitment fees or being told they will earn more by unscrupulous agencies.
Minimum wages for unskilled foreign workers in the UAE are as low as AED600 (US$163) a month, with skilled workers receiving AED1,200 a month, according to the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
The Indian Ambassador to the UAE said earlier this year the government planned to enforce a minimum wage for Indian nationals hoping to work in the UAE. If approved, the ruling will mean workers only receive immigration clearance from India if their employment contract meets with a set minimum wage.
The Ministry of Labour last year ruled that agencies who hire foreign workers must deposit AED1m in a restricted account, while those that hire labourers for third party firms must deposit AED2,000 per worker in a bid to ensure workers get paid on time.
The funds will be used by the Ministry of Labour to reimburse workers in the event of a default on their wages.