United Arab Emirates:
The UAE Labor Laws: What You Need To Know
Article by Hamdan Al Shamsi Lawyers & Legal Consultants
Last year, the Ministry of Labor issued a comprehensive set of rules to shape stronger relationships between workers and employers throughout the UAE. These changes were enacted to improve the labor market across the country by encouraging transparency and advocating for more flexible labor mobility for workers.
What are the major changes of the new UAE labor regulations?
New changes under the UAE Labor Laws included a standard work contract, conditions for terminating a contract, and procedures pertaining to work permits.
How do the new UAE labor regulations impact employment contracts?
Under the new labor laws, employers must obtain a standardized offer letter provided by the ministry’s electronic system. This letter will include a default section that highlights various aspects of the new labor laws, to include employer/employee rights and responsibilities. Before being submitted to the ministry, both parties must sign this legally binding letter.
Similarly, the standardized work contract must be printed from the ministry’s system and signed by both employee and employer. Aimed at encouraging transparency between the employer and employee, the contract of employment must define wages/commissions, establish contract dates/duration, explain the scope/nature of work to be conducted, and establish the location of employment (among others). Although not specified, the estimated processing times for work permits under these new decrees range from 4-6 weeks. Processing times are based on many independent variables, to include qualifications, medical exams, and documentation (to name a few).
How do changes to the UAE labor laws affect visa transfers?
One of the significant advantages under the new labor laws pertains to visa transfers. Under the new labor laws, a worker can change employers after six months, provided they obtain their employer’s consent. This is a significant improvement compared to the previous two-year time frame previously regulated by the Ministry. The new laws also include further flexibility for employees of “unlimited term” contracts who are now permitted to obtain a new work permit even if the employee initiated employment termination. In these cases, the employee must have completed six months of service and completed their notice period as agreed in their initial employment contract. Additionally, workers can obtain a new work permit and transfer if their employer fails to meet their “legal and contractual obligations” or in cases where “the employing company has not provided work due to the firm being inactive for more than two months”.
How do changes to the UAE labor laws affect working hours?
The changes to the labor laws include regulations establishing guidelines regarding employee rights, to include working hours and breaks. The new UAE Labor Laws defines legal working hours at a maximum of eight hours per day, with a maximum of 48 hours per week. Additionally, employees must not work more than five consecutive hours without a break, citing that every five hours of work entitles an employee to a one hour break. During Ramadan, work shifts must be reduced by two hours in both public and private sectors.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.