Discrimination in employment occurs when a person is unfairly treated at work based on race, color, sex, marital status, family responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin, etc...
Direct discrimination - is where someone is treated unfairly or unequally simply because they belong to a particular group or category of people. For example, an employer who refuses to employ someone because they are of a certain nationality or sex is directly discriminating against that person.
Indirect discrimination - is where there is a requirement that is the same for everyone but which has an unequal or disproportionate effect on different groups of people according to their sex, race etc and is unreasonable taking all the circumstances into account. For example, an employer who says that they need a person over 180 cm tall to do a job is likely to be discriminating against women and some ethnic groups. This is because women and people from some ethnic groups are less likely to be this height than men or people from other ethnic groups.
The UAE is a member of the International Labour Organization since 1972. It has ratified 9 Conventions since then, including Convention No. 111 of 1958 in respect of Discrimination in Employment and Occupation, ratified by the UAE on 28/6/2001.
Under Article 2 of the Convention, "each Member for which this Convention is in force undertakes to declare and pursue a national policy designed to promote, by methods appropriate to national conditions and practice, equality of opportunity and treatment in respect of employment and occupation, with a view to eliminating any discrimination in respect thereof". The national policy of equality of opportunity and treatment should, firstly, be clearly stated, which implies that programs for this purpose should be set up and, secondly, should be applied, presupposing state implementation of appropriate measures according to the principles outlined in Article 3 of the Convention.
The national policy should, in particular, take into account the fact that measures designed to promote equality of opportunity and treatment in respect of employment and occupation are a matter of public interest and constitute a right of the individual; to this end, "government agencies should apply non-discriminatory employment policies in all their activities; employers should not practice or countenance discrimination in engaging or training any person for employment, advancing or retaining such person in employment, or in fixing terms and conditions of employment; nor should any person or organization obstruct or interfere, either directly or indirectly, with employers in pursuing this principle.
In this regard, Article 25 of the UAE Constitution provides that “all individuals are equal before the law, and that there is no discrimination between citizens of the federation ...”.
However, while affirmation of the principle of equality before the law may be an element of such a policy, it cannot in itself constitute a policy within the meaning of Article 2 of the Convention. The incorporation of a Convention in internal law by virtue of ratification is not sufficient to ensure its application in law and in practice.
The UAE is a member of the International Labour Organization since 1972. It has ratified 9 Conventions since then, including Convention No. 100 of 1951 in respect of Equal Remuneration, ratified by the UAE on 24/2/1997..
The Convention is normally applied and in effect in the UAE. In this regard Article 32 of Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 regulating employment relationships provides that a woman’s remuneration shall be equal to that of a man where she performs the same work.
However the principle set out in the Convention goes beyond a reference to identical or similar work, and equal remuneration for men and women workers has to be understood as being for work of equal value. While the Convention does not require the reaffirmation of this principle as such in national legislation, the corresponding Recommendation (No. 90) states in paragraph 3(1) that "where appropriate in the light of the methods in operation for the determination of rates of remuneration", provision should be made by legal enactment for the general application of the principle. It is therefore important, in addition to the establishment of machinery for fixing wages, which is based on totally objective criteria exempt from discriminatory considerations, to include in the national legislation a definition of the principle of equality which is in conformity with the Convention.
As for the legislation applicable to public servants, it provides for an objective evaluation of jobs in the public service, without discrimination between men and women and enabling full equality of opportunities, with the only criteria being technical competence, expertise and other qualifications.
The Convention is normally applied in the United Arab Emirates, without any problem or dispute arising in this respect. However, there are difficulties involved in implementing the principle, even where it is generally accepted. The complex and evolving nature of the problem and the equivocal character of the various forms of wage discrimination necessarily give rise to new difficulties.
In fact where job evaluation techniques use market wage rates to establish the relative weights of factors, these weights will tend to reflect the historical discrimination that exists in the labor market, resulting from sexist prejudices or stereotypical perceptions, which leads to an under-evaluation of jobs principally occupied by women. It is for this reason that the establishment of systems for the evaluation of jobs in which women predominate, alongside those in which men predominate, is recommended, with a view to identifying and correcting cases of wage discrimination.