As the UAE entered its 51st year, it decided to pull out all the stops to make the country the most foreigner-friendly expat hub. And it’s pretty apparent if we look back on the recent measures taken by the UAE – from making pioneering employment changes, slackening restrictions on business ownership rules, granting longer-term visas for some, issuing talent pass to certain people, advancing some of its Islamic laws around alcohol, unmarried couples and gaming to embracing a Monday-Friday workweek. Coming back to the new labour law, it’s coming into effect from the 2’s day (02/02/2022). Being an expat in Dubai, UAE, the more you know about the latest amendments in the laws in the country, the better you will be able to enjoy the benefits while simplifying your life in a foreign country. Dubai is UAE’s most popular emirate amongst tourists and expats and all emirates in the UAE, including Dubai, are strict in its moral and ethical code. One wrong move and you can land up in a prison and/or monetary troubles but one right step can take you to new heights in your career or occupation. And the correct move can be taken only when you are acquainted with the law sphere you live in.
What’s in the store?
Implementation of new labour law is a sliding door step towards modernising the workplace! Not only this radical change in the employment system helps the country cope with the ever-changing labour market but also safeguards employee rights. It is worth making people aware that there is a lot to be gained from the new UAE labour law. Women empowerment, equal pay, extended maternity leaves, nursing breaks, remote work contracts, shared jobs, increased paid leave, minimum wage law, compulsory notice period, reasons for terminations, relaxed visa rules for jobseekers, flexible, temporary, part-time and full-time jobs in the private sector are just some of them. Not only that but, the new work permits rolled out by the government as part of the new labour law 2022 will offer a wide spectrum of work options for employees in a way that squarely fits into their needs and circumstances. From issuing work permits for juveniles, freelancers, Golden Visa holders, temporary, part-time employees, other permits enabling employers to train and hire minors (15yo), UAE/GCC nationals and contracts for remote work, shared jobs, flexible, temporary, part-time and full-time jobs in the private sector to recruiting employees from abroad for a certain project or for temporary work, the UAE is all out to make the country as expat-friendly as possible.
The new labour law: A quick recap
On 15 November 2021, the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued the Federal Decree – Law No.33 of 2021 on the regulation of labour relations in the private sector that has recently taken effect from February 2, 2022. The wait is over! Now UAE employees and employers will be working in line with the new labour laws. The comprehensive law is sure to bring about considerable changes to the employment sector in the UAE and enhance flexibility for both the parties – employers and employees. This includes changes to the probation period, providing more protection against harassment and other workplace-related topics to employees as well as incorporating part-time and temporary work arrangements. Let’s have a cursory glance over the 10 key changes which have been implemented under the new law.
- The new law bids adieu the unlimited contracts between employers and employees in the UAE for at least next 40 years or so. The employers are getting an initial grace period of 1 year (subject to extension by MOHRE) to transition from unlimited term contracts to limited or fixed term contracts in line with the new labour law.
- Deadline for drafting of new employment contracts is set to 01 February 2023. UAE employers get a maximum period of one Gregorian year from the date of the new law ’s implementation (i.e., 1 February 2023) to replace the old labour contract with the new one.
- Article 27 of the Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 regulating labour relations will set a minimum wage to be determined for private-sector employees to be applicable from February 2, 2022.
- In addition to articles prohibiting discrimination based on race, sex, religion etc., the new law explicitly asserts that all provisions regulating the employment of workers sans discrimination shall apply to working women, with a stress on granting equal pay to all the genders if they do the same work or other work of equal value, which will be determined by a decision of the Council of Ministers. Violators can attract fines ranging from AED 5,000 to AED 1,000,000.
- The new law permits the employees who have completed two years of work with their employer to request additional types of leave from their employer such as bereavement or compassionate leave, study leave, parental leave, etc. Mothers are also allowed to apply for longer maternity leave up to 60 days (45 days with full pay + extra 15 days with half pay).
- The employers can implement new models of part-time work, temporary work and flexible work keeping the flexibility and productivity of the labour market in view under the new law.
- The new law beefs up the non-compete protections afforded to an employer by introducing a statutory requirement for a non-compete agreement to be executed between the employer and employee. This agreement must stipulate its duration, geographical scope and the types of work it applies to.
- The new labour law mandates employers to render a 14-day notice of termination to their employee/s who is/are still on their probationary period. The same law applies to the employees as well if they wish to exit the employment contract during the probation period.
- Under the new law, if employees or their heirs file petitions, pursue litigation or enforcement orders against employers, they are exempt from judicial fees incurred at any stage of the process, provided that their claim amount is not more than Dh100,000 value wise.
- The new law also offers an option to accommodate a shorter working week via a condensed working hours model. This modification is likely to have been made with the new 4 ½ day working week for public sector employees in mind.
The new decree law, announced in the last quarter of 2021 as the most significant amendment of the Labour Law no. 8 of 1980, was drafted in consultation with all the relevant parties in the federal and local government and the private-sector with an objective to protect employee rights and establish a flexible and efficient labour market in the UAE that lures and retains talents from all over the world.
Types of work permits under the new law
Almost everyone in the UAE knows that the government has brought radical changes in the employment system this year through upgraded labour laws. Many of you might already be cognizant with those amendments as well. However, I bet a few people might be aware of the 12 work permits that could open doors to new horizons. The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has started granting 12 types of permits in line with the 6 work models introduced in the UAE’s New Labour Law. Let’s take a peek at them all:
- Temporary Work Permit: This permit allows employers to hire people on a project basis or for a fixed-term work.
- One-mission Permit: With this permit type companies and establishments are eligible to recruit an employee from abroad for temporary work or a specific project that has a deadline.
- Part-time Work Permit: On a part-time work permit employees can legally work for more than one employer based on a fixed number of hours or days.
- Juvenile Permit: This legal document allows employers to employ juveniles aged between 15 and 18 under the conditions outlined in the law.
- Student Training Permit: With this permit companies and establishments are allowed to train and recruit minors aged 15 under specific regulations that ensure a healthy work environment.
- UAE/GCC National Permit: This type of permit is granted when employers are hiring UAE and GCC nationals.
- Golden Visa Holders Permit: This permit enables the companies and establishments to hire a Golden Visa holder inside the UAE.
- National Trainee Permit: Employers can avail of this permit to train UAE nationals based on their qualifications or fields.
- Freelancer Permit: A freelancer permit is granted to self-sponsored expats willing to provide a certain service, complete a task or work for a fixed period of time for an individual or a company without requiring sponsorship or existing contracts.
- A work permit: to hire a worker from outside the UAE.
- A work permit: to transfer an expatriate worker’s employment from one facility registered in the ministry to another.
- A work permit: for expats who are on dependent visas or sponsored by their family.
Calling UAE employers
Employers should get acquainted with the new labour law and be at their toe to update their employment documentation. Get in touch with Adam Global, home to some of the best Dubai Business Advisors and Visa Specialists for any assistance in connection with new labour law implementation or work permits. We are your one-stop-shop for all your business needs, whether you are wondering about getting a long-term residency, a virtual trade licence, starting a company in Dubai, UAE, relocating your firm, expanding your business, winding up your operations or simply looking for management consultancy to scale up your existing business in the UAE. Our crème de la crème finance professionals can also help you in running your business with their expert advice.