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News and analysis

Employees will still require an exit permit to leave the country, but have gained a right of appeal if they believe they have been wrongly treated. Employers now have 90 days to issue a residence permit after a new staff member enters the country, and they no longer have to issue letters of obligation to transfer residency.

Employee rights get a boost in UAE The three new ministerial decrees that promised to shake up employee rights in the UAE have now taken effect, and HR departments and employment lawyers have begun to assess their likely impact. The decrees are broadly seen as increasing labour mobility and clamping down on the use of restrictive clauses and contracts. Their effects start at the onset of employment, where new staff must be issued with a standard contract that contains more detailed information on their rights, and the terms and conditions of their employment. The use of ‘labour bans’, which prevent employees switching companies, has also been outlawed among unskilled employees who have worked for a business for at least six months, as long as they have met all contractual and legal obligations. This is likely to encourage a major uplift in labour mobility, and is backed by changes affecting limited-term 6

People Management Middle East

Facts at your fingertips The latest CIPD research findings contracts, which can now be terminated by either party by invoking a notice period of up to three months. The maximum duration of such contracts has been reduced to two years, and the changes to their enforcement apply retrospectively. The threemonth limit for notice periods will also apply to unlimitedterm contracts. This will prove challenging for those employers that have retained large numbers of staff on unbreakable fixed-term contracts. It is likely to be hard for them to find ways around the new regulations, and the labour courts are taking an increasingly dim view of restrictive contracts in general.

Middle East to focus on health and safety Health and safety is receiving a new focus across the region, particularly in Saudi Arabia, where the tragic Hajj stampede and crane collapse in 2015 have brought the issue to the fore. The Ministry of Labour says it carried out 142,600 inspections in a year and recorded more than 35,000 notices. It has reminded employers of their responsibilities to staff, including the requirement for supervisors with medical training to oversee activities, and has introduced amendments to ensure that salary and compensation are paid to the victims of workplace accidents.

Ethics are taking a back seat Business leaders are prepared to compromise their personal and professional ethics in pursuit of short-term goals, according to a CIPD survey. A poll of 3,500 business leaders and 2,200 HR professionals spanning the UK, Middle East, Asia, North Africa and the US was released to coincide with the start of a new ‘Profession for the Future’ framework being constructed by the CIPD in consultation with its members. It showed that 29 per cent of leaders and 34 per cent of HR professionals believe they have to compromise their personal principles to meet current business needs. Fewer than half of all respondents feel their principles cannot be compromised under any circumstances, and 22 per cent of leaders claim such actions are necessary to succeed in their organisation. There was better news around intentions, at least, with nine out of 10 of those polled saying they would protect long-term organisational health and reputation given the opportunity. “Far too many business and HR leaders continue to be focused on the short term at the expense of the long-term interests of the organisation and its people,” said Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD.

CEOs in the UK, where the research was carried out, are paid an average of 183 times their typical employee’s annual salary. Though figures for the Middle East are harder to come by, ratios are much closer but still accelerating rapidly, say remuneration experts. A second CIPD study – The power and pitfalls of executive reward: a behavioural perspective – pointed to reasons for the disconnect, including lack of pay transparency, overly complex measures of performance and a one-size-fits-all approach to senior salaries.  CIPD reward adviser Charles Cotton said: “The CIPD recommends organisations increase their focus on ensuring CEOs bring a balanced leadership style, appropriate to the culture and context of the business.” ✶

Businesses must tackle bias Understanding the unconscious biases in the hiring process is key to generating the best working outcomes for an organisation, says research from the CIPD’s behavioural insights team. Human decisions and human error are a common aspect of the recruitment process, according to A head for hiring: the behavioural science of recruitment and selection. Introducing safeguards against unconscious bias – such as anonymising CVs and assessing candidates in pairs – can help employers focus on the important information contained in job applications instead of being sidetracked by human instinct. The report offers advice on crafting job specifications, and on CEO pay ‘demotivates staff’ eradicating unconscious bias; for The pay of chief executives example, the inclusion of people in is so out of kilter with the hiring decisions who have not had a average employee that it has a hand in assessing the candidates. demotivating effect on individuals, “Closer engagement with the says The view from below: what behavioural science literature can employees really think about their not only help organisations hire the CEO’s pay packet. people they really need, but can In the study, 71 per cent of staff also guide other areas of decisionsaid they think CEO pay in general making, taking us towards a more is too high, and 59 per cent feel behaviourally astute HR,” the demotivated by the reward of report concluded. executives in their organisation. ✶


LEGAL UPDATE continued

People Management Middle East: Issue 2  

The CIPD magazine for the Middle East