United Arab Emirates offers new migrant labor reforms in country amid right groups' concerns

The United Arab Emirates is introducing labor reforms that aim to tighten oversight of employment agreements for the millions of temporary migrant workers that comprise the bulk of the country's workforce.

Minister of Labor Saqr Ghobash discussed the reforms at a news conference Tuesday in the federal capital, Abu Dhabi. The reforms are being implemented through three government decrees that take effect Jan. 1.

They focus on improving transparency of job terms and employment contracts, spell out how contracts can be broken and could make it easier for workers to switch employers.

Rights groups long have raised concerns about conditions for workers in the Emirates and other oil-rich Gulf states, citing concerns including low pay, inadequate housing, the illegal confiscation of passports and limits on workers' ability to change employers.