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UAE Employment and Labour Law for Employees

At TWS Legal Consultants, our employment lawyers have been advising and representing UAE nationals and expatriate employees on employment and labour law matters for over ten years.

We understand how important work is for many people in the UAE and for expatriates, it is the reason they came to the country.  Indeed, work is a source of stability and security in a foreign country.  Employees caught up in an employment dispute, or those who feel treated unfairly by their employer can experience a sense of vulnerability in trying to resolve matters in a region where the culture and language are different to their own.

Our  Legal Consultants are registered with the UK Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and the Dubai Legal Affairs Department. Our employment lawyers, who are fluent in English, will provide compassionate, pragmatic, accurate legal advice to resolve your employment dispute as quickly as possible.

Do workers have many rights in the UAE?

Under the Labour Law and through the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE), employees have considerable rights in the UAE.  You are entitled to annual leave, maternity leave, and health and safety is highly regulated.

New labour reforms that took effect in the UAE on 1st January 2016 dramatically increased the responsibility placed on employees regarding the rights of workers.  The transparency of job terms and employment contracts were reformed, and the ability to switch employees was made easier.

However, there are still cases of exploitation.  As an employee, it is important to understand that your employer cannot demand to keep your passport, pay you in an ad-hoc manner, or force you to resign.  You also do not need your employer’s permission to resign, and work hours are restricted to eight or nine hours per day.

What are the types of employment contracts in the UAE?

UAE employment law is governed by Federal Law No. 8 of 1980, known as the Labour Law.

The Labour Law provides for two types of employment contracts in the UAE; a limited contract, and an unlimited contract.

Limited contracts are often linked to UAE work visas and are typically for two years’ duration.  An unlimited contract has no fixed-term or specified end date.

A limited contract can be renewed at the end of the fixed term or converted to an unlimited contract.

If you are an expatriate, your employer is responsible for all your visa expenses, and they are not permitted to deduct these costs from your pay.

How are employment disputes dealt with in the UAE?

Our employment lawyers have a robust track record of resolving employment disputes amicably through Settlement Agreements.  However, if this cannot be achieved, we can advise you on the resolution route below:

  • Employment disputes between employer and employees who are mainland can be listed with MoHRE. If the employer is located inside a free zone, the employment dispute will be heard by the relevant free zone authority in the first instance.  If the MoHRE/relevant free zone authority cannot bring about a resolution, the matter can be referred to the Labour Courts.
  • In the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), employment disputes are dealt through the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT). If the dispute cannot be resolved, the matter is transferred to the DIFC Courts or ADGM Courts.

To book a consultation with one of our employment disputes lawyers, please contact us:

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