Companies have been warned they will no longer get away with failing to pay their employees on time.
The message came from Maher Hamad Al Obed, Assistant Undersecretary of Inspection Affairs at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, after a 7DAYS poll of more than 500 UAE residents found more than half have not had their wages on time at some stage.
One in five respondents said they had to wait more than a month for unpaid wages.
Some workers told 7DAYS that their companies are typically three months behind on wages.
Out of the 521 respondents, 264 said they have to wait for their salary.
Labour officials have urged employees not to suffer in silence and to report their firms. A new law that came into affect three weeks ago will result in firms being fined Dhs5,000 fines for every employee that is not paid within 10 days of the due date.
Al Obed said: “The authority has taken all necessary arrangements to start implementing the resolution, with new policies and measures introduced to strengthen the protection of workers’ rights in obtaining their wages without delay.
“These include the ministry taking mandate over violating firms in the case of delayed salaries in the period specified by the law.”
Work permits can be withdrawn for companies after 16 days.
Penalties rise to a maximum of Dhs50,000 in cases that run for more than 60 days.
“If the company fails to pay wages for 60 days from the due date, then administrative fines shall follow, in addition to registered fines for failing to pay wages a month from the due date,” said Al Obed.
In our poll, some 96 people said they regularly wait for more than a month beyond their salary date, 42 said they wait between two weeks to a month, 49 said they wait between one to two weeks and 77 people said they wait for a week or less.
Construction worker Sikander is embarrassed to tell his family his late wages mean they go hungry.
The 39-year-old Indian, who earns Dhs1,200 per month, said he makes excuses as he anxiously waits to get paid – which is usually a month after when he is supposed to get it.
He said: “Whenever my family calls me, I have to lie and tell them I have too many expenses here and they need to wait until I send them money.
“But they don’t what’s really happening here. If they did, they would ask me to return home. But what will I do there? I can earn more here.”
Another worker, at a labour supply firm in Dubai, has got his salary three months late for the past two years.
Mohammed M, 31, said he and his colleagues earn between Dhs,1000 to Dhs1,500 and that their wages are currently three months late.
He said he expects to get July’s salary in the next few days. Mohammed said: “For a long time we have been receiving our salaries three months late. It’s a big problem for workers from a lot of companies here who hire workers from Bangladesh, India or Pakistan. We can’t really do much about it.
“At the end of this month, I will receive my July salary.
“How am I supposed to take care of myself? I’m not earning Dhs10,000, I am earning only Dhs1,400 and more than half of that goes to family in Bangladesh.”
Dinesh Kumar, First Secretary at the Indian Embassy, which represents the largest population of expat workers, said officials have seen a recent rise in complaints.
The embassy has even been helping those affected with food allowances.
Kumar said: “We do get some complaints, and it’s on an increase, from workers on not getting their salaries on time and many who say their bosses have run away.” As 7DAYS reported in August, Kumar said lost wages due to owners fleeing was up sharply.
He said at the time: “Last year the total amount of complaints we received of a similar nature was 340, but this year we already had 300 by the end of July. If the same trend goes on, we may see the figure doubling by the end of the year.”