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Kipp wants to be part-time

Kipp wants to be part-time

The introduction of a part-time work permit to the UAE is a much needed and welcome move, but there is still plenty to be desired of the new labor laws says Eva Fernandes.

January 30, 2011 5:49 by

The American University of Sharjah held its graduation ceremony for the Class of 2010 a few days back, and knowing some of the graduates I spent a good portion of my weekend congratulating and conversing with the bright-eyed bunch. While they were excited about graduating and entering a new phase of their lives, there was a pretty deep fear in their eyes of the rather uncertain nature of their future.

Worries about transition post-university is not something unique to students of today or of this region, but the special worry of trying to find a job in these troubled economic times, is. It is a fact that fresh graduates are very aware of, especially when they attempt to get a job and get slapped with the ‘experience’ argument. When approached, employers claim they want experienced candidates, which turns the application process into a kind of a vicious cycle wherein you are denied the opportunity of gaining experience simply because you don’t have any.

Which is why, I am quite certain, the current introduction of part-time work permits is something that will be welcomed by a good number of UAE’s residents and businesses.

The new labour laws, in case you are unaware, allow for the issuing of a ‘part-time work permit’- a permit unprecedented in the region, apparently. The permit will mean that housewives and university students (among others) will be able to take up jobs despite time-constraints or limitations.

Take for instance Noor Kamali, a 21-year-old Emirati university student who had to opt to attend evening classes in order to maintain a full time job in the day time. She told the National, “It was really hard. I worked for 11 hours – from 8am to 3pm at work, then from 5pm to 9pm at university. I had to take evening classes at uni so I could work in the morning. I wanted to work, I wanted the experience, but it was hard, sometimes it was almost impossible. The option [for a part time work permit] would have been good to have.  A lot of people now that I know want to work, but don’t because they can’t take up full-day jobs – so this will encourage them.”

Women, housewives in particular, will benefit from the new permit. As it stands, currently there are fewer women working in the UAE than almost any other country. According to the Global Competitiveness report issued by the World Economic Forum, the UAE ranks 125th out of 139 with regards to female participation. The National says women only make up 20 percent of the total work force and their paid work results in just 10 percent of the UAE’s GDP. Undoubtedly rigid timings, one of the world’s worst maternity laws and also the high cost of child care are part of the reasons for the shamefully low participation of women in the professional work force.

Clearly something needed to be done. The new part-time work permits are definitely a much required step in the right direction, but as far as enabling better working conditions for all members of society goes, the UAE still has quite far to go.

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