Changes in UAE labour law have occurred periodically. On February 2, 2022, modifications were made to the way employment operates in the private sector, such as introducing shared jobs and flexible hours to accommodate workers. These amendments provide changes not previously available and work to strengthen employee rights in the United Arab Emirates.
UAE Labour Law Amendments – Everything You Need to Know About it:
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about the latest UAE labour law, and the amendments in it.
Fixed term contracts only:
The changes are brief. For private sector employees, fixed-term contracts have been introduced. After leaving a job, an employee can stay in the country for up to 180 days. Job sharing has been introduced, which may suit students and adults returning to work. Maternity leave has also undergone significant changes. Officials of the United Arab Emirates have emphasized that all private sector entities must strictly adhere to the new laws under any circumstances and cautioned against violating the law due to lack of awareness.
Flexible Working and Part Time Arrangements
According to Abdulrahman Al Anwar, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, an employee with a 40-hour workweek contract can now complete those hours in three days using condensed hours. Additionally, shared jobs have been introduced, allowing two employees to split hours and work together, provided they agree on the arrangement with their employer.
Working for Multiple Employers
New work options have been introduced to facilitate employees in various ways. Individuals can now work for multiple employers simultaneously for a specified number of days and hours. They can also engage in short-term projects. Flexibility in working hours has been introduced, allowing adjustments based on workload and employer needs. Employers can now let employees choose their work hours according to availability.
According to Dr. Hassan Elhais, a legal consultant at Al Rowaad Advocates, the main headline changes include the abolishment of unlimited contracts, introduction of new work models such as part-time work and flexible hours, supplementary leave, and anti-discrimination protection. This change has its advantages. Flexible hours are particularly beneficial for employed students, enabling them to work more freely and make their own arrangements with mutual consent from employers.
Probation Period Notice
Furthermore, employment contracts must now be limited. Employees with permanent, indefinite contracts will have fixed contracts of up to three years, which can be renewed. The probation period cannot exceed six months, and a two-week notice must be given before termination. During the probation period, employees must provide one month’s notice to change jobs or 14 days’ notice if leaving the country.
According to Mohamed Rouchdi, a partner at ICLO law firm, if an employee wishes to join another employer during the probationary period, they must serve 30 days’ notice. In such cases, the new employer must compensate the former employer for visa costs and expenses related to hiring the ex-employee.
Termination of Employment
If an employee leaves the country and returns within three jobs to take up a new position, the new employer must reimburse the former employer for labor expenses and visa costs. Additionally, after leaving or being terminated from a job, the employer cannot force the employee to leave the country. Instead, the employee is allowed to stay for up to 180 days without overstaying their visa. Under the previous law, individuals had only 30 days to find new work or leave if their residency visa was canceled.
Discrimination and Equal Wages
The new law ensures no discrimination in any form, whether based on race, color, religion, nationality, gender, or disability. A minimum wage has been established for all employees, a first in the UAE.
The new provisions offer protection against harassment. Employees cannot be compelled to work more than two hours of overtime per day. For overtime work, employees must be paid 25% of their regular hourly rate. Employers are no longer allowed to retain employees’ documents, such as passports, and cannot charge recruitment fees. Article 45 has expanded the reasons for employee termination without notice. Termination can now occur without notice for 10 specific reasons. All these changes have been implemented to best facilitate employees.
Depending on the contract, employees are entitled to at least one rest day or more. In the event of a relative’s death, employees must receive paid leave of 3-5 days, depending on their relationship with the deceased person.
Dr. Elhais stated, “Employees can request bereavement leave of five days after the death of a spouse and three days after the death of a close family member. Parental leave of five days is allowed within six months of a child’s birth, and employees who have worked for the same employer for two years can take study leave of 10 days if they need to take exams.”
What Else You Need to Know About the Labour Law
Non-compete clauses can now be included in contracts, allowing employees to prevent their former employers from competing against them or participating in competing projects in the same sector.
Teens aged 15 or older can now work with permission from parents and a medical fitness report. They are prohibited from working in hazardous jobs or after 7 pm.
All these amendments apply to workers in the private sector of the UAE, including domestic workers.
The UAE labour law amendments mark a significant stride towards employee empowerment and protection in the UAE’s private sector. These amendments introduce flexible work options, strengthened job rights, and improved working conditions. By embracing shared jobs, flexible hours, and enhanced leave provisions, the UAE demonstrates its commitment to creating and promoting a balanced work environment. This holistic approach encompasses fair treatment, non-discrimination, and improved working conditions, benefiting both employees and employers. The evolved legal framework reflects a progressive stance that values individual rights, promoting a more inclusive and efficient workforce for UAE’s future prosperity.
Hope this article has been beneficial for you!