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New UAE Labour Law To Come Into Effect From February 2022

November 22, 2021/ Haroon Juma / Labour Law

Labour Law

On November 15, 2021, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued a new decree regulating employment relations in the private sector. The changes and additions to the labour law aims to regulate the labour relations in the private sector across part-time and temporary work models, along with safeguarding employee rights and introducing a new leave policy.

As the UAE prepares for its 50th anniversary, the law is part of the government’s effort to promote a flexible and competitive work environment.

In accordance with Decree-Law No 33 of 2021, which governs employment relations in the private sector, people can opt for temporary and flexible work, freelancing, and compressed workweek hours.

Domestic workers and employees in the UAE are exempted from these labour law amendments.

These changes are to come into effect from February 2022.

Flexible work schedules

According to the Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation Dr. Abdulrahman Al Awar, if an employee works 40 hours a week as per their contract, they can now work the 40 hours in 3 days as specified by the new condensed-hours model. However, this is possible only if the employer and the employee agree to all clauses in the contract.

Rather than having to commit to a full-time position, the new law allows employees to fulfill as many hours as they need to meet their needs:

Flexible work Work where the working hours and days are changed according to workload and employer needs. People may also choose the hours they work if their employer allows them to do so.
Temporary work The worker is only employed for a specific period of time, or the employment is connected to a specific task and ends with its completion.
Part-time It allows a person to work for one or more employers for a set amount of time.

Protection and Support

The new decree emphasizes the protection of employees in the workplace and protects them against discrimination based on their gender, race, nationality, religion, or disability. It also safeguards them against any kind of harassment in the workplace.

Employee Documents Employers are not allowed to withhold employee documents such as their identification documents and they cannot charge the employees any recruitment fees.
Employee Legal Fees Employees will no longer pay legal fees for filing labour cases against employers for compensation of less than Dh100,000. However, they will bear the charges if the case amount is over Dh100,000.
Safety Training The law also mandates employers to schedule training, provide safety kits, and set up warning boards to avoid work-related accidents and injuries.
Overtime Under the new labour law, an employee cannot work for more than two hours each day as overtime. Employees who work more than two extra hours per day (if required by the job) must receive an overtime wage that is 25 percent more than their regular hourly pay.

Employment Contracts and Gratuity

Contract Types

One of the major amendments in the labour law includes the elimination of the unlimited contract type.

All contracts are to be changed as limited contracts which have a limited duration of three years.

The contracts can be renewed at the end of the contract period upon mutual agreement between the employee and the employer.

Probation Periods

Probation should not exceed more than 6 months and the employer is obliged to give a two-week notice if they have plans to terminate the employee.

Similarly, if the employee wishes to resign during the probation period, they are required to give a month’s notice and a 14-day notice if they plan to leave the country.

Death During Service In the unfortunate event of an employee’s death, the end-of-service benefits along with any outstanding amounts need to be paid to the deceased employee’s family within 10 days. Also, the employer is responsible for the costs associated with repatriating the body.
Gratuity Gratuity can now be paid in UAE dirhams or the employee’s currency of choice as agreed upon in the employment contract. In addition, employees are given one month to vacate accommodation paid for by the employer after the end of their contract.

Paid Leave

Rest Days Every employee is entitled to at least one paid rest day depending on their contract.
Mourning Leave Under the new labour law, employees are now entitled to 3 to 6  days of paid mourning leaves depending on their relation to the deceased.
Paternity Fathers are now permitted to 5 days as paternity leave under the new law. This rule was previously imposed in individual Emirates but the new Federal legislation means it now applies to all Emirates.

Non-compete Clauses

Employer Rights

It is now legal for an employer to prevent an employee from competing against them or from taking part in a competing project within the same industry.

It is based on the fact that the employee has access to privileged information because of their employment.

Contractual Impacts The contract must specify how long the clause will last. The clause cannot last longer than two years from the date of termination.
Protection Rights To protect business interests, it must specify places and types of work that are not allowed during this time.

Under 18 Employment

Eligibility Teenagers aged 15 and above can now work, granted they provide written approval from their guardian and a medical fitness report.

They are not allowed to do any kind of work that may affect their physical and mental wellbeing.

They are not allowed to work after 7 pm.

They are not allowed to work more than 6 hours each day (inclusive of an hour break).

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