The UAE government last year announced a decree-law to protect the rights of employees in the private sector within the post-pandemic setting. If you’re working in the UAE, you should know the employment laws and regulations that offer various benefits to workers, including paternity leave and exemption of legal fees. Let’s find out more about what amendments were made in the UAE Labour Law of 2021/2022.
DISCLAIMER: The information stated below is based on the provisions of the Federal Decree-Law no. 33 of 2021. However, certain subjects might still await further clarity in the law.
UAE LABOUR LAW 2022: AN OVERVIEW
The second UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, H.H. Late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan (may he forever rest in peace), issued the Federal Decree-Law no. 33 of 2021 to regulate the labour laws in the private sector.
This legislation took effect on 2nd February 2022. The post-COVID-19 workplace regulations include the following:
According to the Ministry of Human Resource and Emiratisation (MOHRE), implementing the UAE Labour Laws 2022 will pave the way for the future growth and prosperity of the ever-evolving workforce in the country. Besides attracting new talent, these laws emphasise gender equality at work.
PROVISIONS UNDER THE UAE LABOUR LAW 2022
COERCION IN THE WORKPLACE
Article 74 of the decree prohibits employers from all forms of coercionin the workplace. An employer may not threaten the worker with a penalty or force them to provide a service against their will.
In addition, employers cannot force employees to work overtime exceeding two hours per day. In case the job requires additional hours, the employer must compensate with an hourly pay of 25% of the employee’s regular hourly income.
Furthermore, employers are no longer allowed to withhold any documents of the employees, such as passports. They cannot charge employees any recruitment fees either.
Under this law, all forms of workplace harassment against an employee are strictly prohibited. That includes sexual harassment, bullying and any form of verbal, physical or psychological violence against a worker by the employer, their superiors or colleagues.
The legislation outlaws discrimination based on gender, religion, national origin, socioeconomic status, handicap, colour or race that may limit equal opportunities or obstruct the deliverance of equal rights.
The law also prohibits the termination of female employees based on their pregnancy or maternity leave.
In addition, the amendments in the UAE Labour law accentuate the equal pay provision for men and women as defined under the law previously. These changes stress that all conditions governing the employment of workers shall apply to working women in the UAE, without any discrimination or violation of the prescribed rights of working women.
UAE labour law also granted women the same wage as men if they are doing the same work or work of equal value, as established by the Council of Members.
The labour law 2022 divides the employment market into six different work models that include:
Under the Decree’s regulations, terms related to annual leaves and severance pay are to be decided based on the employment model to protect the rights of the employer and the employee.
Here’s an overview of the different working models under the 2022 law.
It’s also essential to note that the maximum work hours are 48 hours per week and 8 hours per day (9 hours including lunch break) under Article 17 (1) of the Federal Decree-Law No (33) of 2021 on the Regulation of Labour Relations (the “New Employment Law.”) During the Holy Month of Ramadan, work duration has to be reduced by 2 hours.
The work rule also comes under Article 7, clause 1 of the Federal Decree-Law No (47) of 2021.
However, Article 7(2) of the New Employment Law also suggests that the Cabinet may increase or decrease the daily work hours for particular economic sectors/categories or workers with the minister’s proposal and in coordination with the concerned company.
The updated law stipulates that a fixed-term contract (limited) should not exceed three years. If both parties agree, the contract can be renewed or extended for a similar or shorter amount of time.
The provisions of the decree-law apply to employment contracts of indefinite duration as concluded under Federal Law No (8) of 1980.
According to the amendments, unlimited employment contracts are to be converted into fixed-term employment contracts. Within one year of the agreement’s effective date, these contracts must comply with the restrictions, controls and processes outlined in the decree by law. They may be extended for longer durations by the Council of Ministers if necessary (in the public interest).
The labour law 2022 implements the following rulings on probation:
According to the UAE Labour Law 2022, an employer has the right to add a non-compete clause to the employment contract. Notably, the provision only applies if the work entrusted to the worker allows them to gain sensitive information about the employer’s clients or trade secrets.
Unless a condition as such is specified in terms of time, place and type of work to the extent necessary to protect legitimate business interests, the period of non-competition shall not exceed two years from the date of contract expiry.
The MoHRE issues 12 types of work permits, depending on the nature of work and work model an employee is recruited for. These work permits include:
WORKER WELFARE UNDER THE LABOUR LAW IN THE UAE 2022
Worker welfare sits at the core of the amendments to the UAE Labour Law 2022. The decree includes clauses associated with worker welfare. It also ensures health and safety measures for all workers in the private sector. Here are some of the provisions related to employee welfare.
LEAVE AND REST DAYS DEFINED
According to the 2022 labour laws and regulations, all employees are entitled to the following leaves.
No changes were made to the UAE’s sick leaves law in the employment laws 2022.
The law deems it illegal and prohibits employers from withholding employees’ official documents such as passports or forcing workers to leave the country at the end of an employment contract.
The law also allows the worker to have the right to obtain their wages on the due date under regulations approved by the Ministry and according to the procedures and conditions issued by the Executive Regulations of the Federal Decree-Law no. 33 of 2021.
In addition, the employees are now allowed to stay in the country for 180 days after the termination of employment without incurring overstay fines on their visas. This period was previously limited to 30 days.
According to the UAE Labour Law 2022, the workers’ right to receive the end of service benefits, including gratuity, has been further secured with the following changes:
The calculation of gratuity in the UAE remains unchanged (to be calculated by legislation that regulates pensions and social security). However, end of service benefits in the UAE can now be paid in any currency chosen by the employee, as long as it is mutually agreed upon in the employment contract.
Based on the 2022 law, any labour cases or petitions filed against the employer by the employee and/or their legal heirs are exempt from judicial fees in all stages of litigation and execution and requests, as long as the claim value does not exceed AED 100,000.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The UAE Labour Laws 2022 became effective on 2nd February 2022.
The labour law stipulates that the minimum legal age for working in Dubai for full-time employment is 18 years and above. Students in Dubai between the ages of 15 to 18 may get a temporary work permit known as a Juvenile Work Permit, which can only be valid for one year.
That concludes our guide to the UAE Labour Law 2022. Please visit the official MOHRE website to learn more about these changes. For better clarity, you can also read our comprehensive guide to UAE employment laws.
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