Dec 10, 2020
by Jessica Saayman
Many companies and employers across the UAE are unaware that the UAE is a signatory to several international conventions including the 1974 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination as well as the 2001 ILO Convention on the Prohibition of Discrimination. Both the 1974 and 2001 laws aim to put an end to discrimination in the workplace, especially during the employment recruitment process. The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization warned companies in 2018 against posting job adverts asking for candidates of a specific race, gender, or nationality whether directly in a job posting or indirectly through denying a candidate a job because they are i.e. female or Indian.
Unfair discrimination during the hiring process is when an employer selects candidates based on a biased set of criteria instead of the candidate’s overall merits and experiences. Discrimination is seen to take place from the start of the process at the original job posting i.e. “male only” or “white only”, which immediately creates exclusion of whole groups of individuals before any person of any race, gender, age, or nationality has an opportunity to put their foot in the door to showcase their capabilities and proficiencies.
Specifying that only “such-and-such” candidates can apply during the hiring process rather than choosing their skills and qualifications cannot be justified- more often than not, there is no acceptable reason to hire one person over another by only assessing one criteria such as race or gender. Dubai has made many efforts to shift the boundaries of discrimination, although they have only in the recent years brough about changes, they have done so effortlessly and with reverence. Since 2014, the UAE opened the regions first military college for women, Khawla Bint Al Azwar Military School, four women have been appointed as judges and 17 women are working in the prosecution sector, additionally earlier in 2020, Dubai had the regions first female public bus drivers- all of these key events showcase how Dubai has tried and prospered to overcome inequality.
If an individual feels they are being discriminated against, the UAE has made channels open for them to communicate their concerns. Individuals can call 80060 at any time to launch a complaint.
When a general grievance against a company is made the case will be submitted to the inspection department within the Ministry. If the department finds that the company has acted in such a way which is deemed discriminatory, the department will issue a word of warning to the company about their actions and the Ministry will do thorough checks to see what prompted the complaint. If it is determined that there was a transgression, the case will be referred to general prosecution and a fitting penalty will be determined
Overall, companies could face potential fines of up to AED 1,000,000. Not only should a hefty fine be a motivator for companies to abide by the Anti-Discrimination laws, but companies should not allow their personal bias to impact the workplace. HR executives should put an effort into creating criteria which is only based on merit and whether the candidate is a good fit overall in order to avoid behaving in such a way that could be seen as inequal.
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