UAE Labor Law major changes have been recently announced. The change of the UAE Labor Law framework set in Law No. 8 of 1980. New times, new laws.

The new UAE Labor Law, introduced by Federal Law No. 33 of 2021 humanizes labor relations and sets in place the greatest chances since the 1980.

The President of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has issued the Federal Decree-Law No 33 of 2021, to regulate labor relations in the private sector. The new Law will enter into force from February 2, 2022, to all establishments, employers and workers in the UAE’s private sector.

The main purposes of the Federal Decree-Law N0. 33 of 2021

Dr Abdul Rahman Al Awar, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, explained in a media briefing that the new Labour Decree is the biggest update to the laws regulating labour relations in the UAE and, beyond the published text analyzed in the next section, it was created pursuing the implementation of the following goals:

  • It aims to increase the flexibility and sustainability of the country´s labour market, as it guarantees the protection and developments of the exceptional circumstances it may face, such us an outbreak of Covid-19.
  • The new law guarantees the rights of employers and employees in the working relationship in a balanced way, and provides protection for both parties so that they can claim these rights when necessary, strengthening the stability and well-being of workers in the private sector, with special attention to empowering women and youth protection.
  • It enhances ease of doing business, competitiveness and productivity of the labor market by attracting and preserving the best talented workers and employment skills, while providing employees with incentives and an attractive working environment.
  • It consolidates the foreign labor policy agreed by the UAE.

Major stipulations under the new UAE Labor Law

  1. New Labor Relation Models

Relevant introductions are shown with the new forms of work under the law, which includes part-time work, temporary work, and flexible work.

The models would also cover freelancing, condensed working weeks, shared job models, and self-employment. The shared-job model allows two people to share the same job and split the pay based on an agreement with the employer, what grants employees the flexibility to work on a project, hourly, or for different employers while enabling employers to harness different talents and competencies at lower operational costs.

  1. Working time and leave benefits under the New UAE Labor Law

Throughout the working week, employees can choose to complete their 40 hours in three days instead of one week in accordance with the contract signed by the parties.

Employees are prohibited from working for more than 5 hours without a break of at least 1 hour.

No more than two hours of overtime are allowed in one day for workers with certain exceptions when the nature of the job require more than two hours overtime.

In addition to the five days of parental leave and other holidays stipulated by the Cabinet, employees can also receive a series of leave, including 3-5 days of mourning leave, depending on the degree of kinship of the deceased. Maternity leave can be extended to 60 days: 45 days with full pay, then 15 days with half wage.

  1. Content of the employment contract and termination

The law also assigns the employer the responsibility to pay for the fees and costs of recruitment and not to collect them directly or indirectly from the employee.

In addition, it regulates the obligations of the employer to provide adequate accommodation, protection and prevention, as well as train workers and help them develop their skills.

According to the new law, companies cannot terminate employees during probation, which should not exceed six months, without a 14-day written notice.

Workers also should not be forced to leave the country after the end of the work term, or use indirect methods to force their stay such as the confiscation of employees’ official documents.

  1. No discrimination principle, gender equality and childhood protection

The law reinforces the prohibition of all forms of discriminations based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, social origin or disability among persons that would weaken possibilities of equal opportunity, prejudice equal access to or continuation of employment and enjoyment of rights. It stresses the prohibition of sexual harassment, bullying or any form of verbal, physical or psychological violence against a worker by the employer, his or her superiors at work or colleagues.

The amendments highlight gender equality, with emphasis on granting women the same wage as men if they are doing the same work or work of equal value.

As per the new law, teenagers are not allowed to work more than six hours a day with one-hour break and should be allowed to work only after submitting a written consent of a guardian and a medical fitness report. Teenagers are not allowed to work on shifts from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. or engage in risky jobs that could cause harm to their physical health, ethics and well-being.

  1. Litigation

The decree exempts workers or their heirs from all judicial fees in all stages of litigation, execution and request, the value of which does not exceed AED 100,000.

Future Implementation of the New UAE Labor Law

The Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation explained that the executive regulations are currently being formulated based on the current and future developments to comply with the implementation of the provisions of the decree-law.

He added that the Ministry will be committed to the execution of policies, strategies and legislations to encourage and incentivize companies to invest in training and empower the best talent; boost their skills, efficiency and productivity; adopt modern technologies; and attract them in accordance with the requirements of the national labour market; as well as training students from UAE recognized public and higher education institutions.

This is not the first not last modifications in UAE law. Understandably given the constant grown of the UAE. For information on recent arbitration news please click here.

Link to the full text of Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 (current UAE Labor Law):

Link to the Announcement of the New UAE Labor Law: 

**This information does not intend to be legal advice and the content is merely indicative and is subject to change as relates to fees of governmental bodies.