From new rules around employment types and flexible working, to laws setting out additional leave types and addressing discrimination, some major changes are imminent.
Ultimately, the new rules are aimed at ensuring more flexibility for employees.
The new UAE labour law applies to both public and private sector workers.
As with any change, there’s been a lot of speculation around the UAE labor law for 2022.
But don’t worry, Time Out is here to help clear a few things up.
Will you get more annual leave? Can you work from home? Is part-time work allowed?
The announcement of Executive Regulations from the UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) www.mohre.gov.ae/en/home.aspx will add much more detail to the new labour laws, their rollout and how they impact us all.
This is expected in February.
Companies are likely to be given a year to implement the changes.
While we wait for the new announcements, at Time Out we’ve had a look into what you need to know right now before the new labour laws come into effect on February 2.
With the help of Sarah Brooks, managing director and owner at Fikrah HR fikrahhr.com, here’s a handy guide to the new UAE labour laws.
This article is based on information available currently and the best available translations of Arabic, with updates to the new legislation still to be announced and published.
Further review and approvals of the new UAE labour law and its practical rollout are expected over the next few weeks, so do keep checking back for updates.
Here are all your questions answered.
When were the new UAE labour laws announced?
The laws were first documented on September 20, 2021 and announced to the public on November 15, 2021.
When will the laws come into place?
The UAE labour laws come into effect from Wednesday, February 2, 2022.
Why is the new UAE labour law coming into place?
The new laws are aimed at ensuring more flexibility in the employment market.
What are the most important changes to look out for?
There are many changes with some of the important ones being around employment types and flexible working, contract types, and additional leave types.
You can also expect more detail around stopping discrimination, harassment and bullying in the workplace, and around recruitment.
What’s happening with the minimum wage for the UAE?
So far, all we know is that a minimum wage is to be determined and announced by the cabinet following a proposal by the MOHRE in collaboration with the relevant authorities. The minimum wage will be applicable to private sector employees.
How much annual leave will we get from Feb 2, 2022?
It appears that there’s no increase to the number of days of annual leave; it’s still two days per month for the first year and then 30 days per year from then onwards.
The changes are that you can now legally request paid annual leave during your probation period and that for any annual leave you take you must be paid your full salary (previously by law you had to be paid only your basic and housing.)
Does this annual leave allowance include UAE public holidays?
Good news right here. The amendment states that UAE public holidays are additional to annual leave but if they happen to fall within your annual leave then they are considered part of the leave.
What about part-time workers – how are they affected when it comes to annual leave?
The UAE labour law amendments detail new rules with regards to different categories of work types being; full-time, part-time, timed work, and flexible working.
Exactly what these rules will be covered within the Executive Regulations.
What changes are there to maternity leave?
Maternity leave has been changed for the better – pregnant women are now protected from termination due to pregnancy or absence as a result of pregnancy within the terms of Article 30 of the new law. Additionally, pregnant women are now entitled to 45 days at full pay and a further 15 days with half pay.
Another change – there is no reduction in pay for maternity leave if you’ve been in your job for less than a year. You will still get full salary and eligibility for maternity leave as long as your pregnancy lasted at least six months while in your job. The daily rest period after returning to work is still in place but only for six months.
What about paternity leave?
New fathers can take five working days with pay, which can be taken continuously or intermittently within the first six months after the birth of the child.
Can we now claim compassionate leave?
You can indeed. The new UAE labour law includes compassionate leave in the case of bereavement. This will be either five or three days depending on the degree of relative concern.
There are no changes to sick leave so far, nor any changes by the law governing Covid-related sick leave.
Do the new laws include flexible working?
Yes, they do. Hurrah!
However, the detail is not yet clear, so keep checking back as we wait for updates within the Executive Regulations from the MOHRE. We’re waiting to hear about the contract types, pay, leave and end of service arrangements related to flexible working.
Can I work from home under the new laws?
Well there’s nothing in the new laws that says working from home is not allowed, but we will need to wait for the Executive Regulations to be 100% clear.
Most likely, rules around this will continue to be set out by individual employers.
The new four-and-a-half day working week has got us all excited. Is the working week fewer hours by law, or still 48 hours per week?
No changes here we’re afraid. The working week in the UAE remains at 48 hours.
But, keep in mind that 48 hours is the maximum number of hours employees should work per week. Companies can reduce working hours and still be compliant with the law.
It’s also worth noting that all hours worked over the maximum 48 per week should paid for as overtime.
In any three week period the maximum number of worked hours should not be more than 144. Time to start keeping track.
Do any new laws impact resignations and final pay?
Resignation terms in the probation period have been improved but also strengthened. Within the new fixed-term contracts, both parties in the contract have to give a minimum of two weeks’ notice.
However for the employee, it’s a little more complicated, if you are resigning to leave the UAE then two weeks’ notice is just fine, though if you get home and decide to come back within three months of leaving then your new employer will have to compensate your old employer for the fees paid to hire you.
The same goes if you want to stay in the country; your new employer has to compensate the old, however, in this instance the employee has to give 30 days’ notice within their probation period.
If you decide to not give notice and abscond from the UAE, you will have a mandatory ban of one year for any new work permits. As with many articles in the new law there will be more details and applications to come within the Executive Regulations.
What about our precious gratuities?
Our gratuities will change, and so far as is evident from the information we have currently, it’s for the better.
It appears from the information received to date about the new laws, that if you resign from your contract your gratuity will not be forfeit and it will not be reduced. This means that as long as you have completed one year’s service, you will be eligible for 21 days salary for every year worked up to five years and then 30 days for service over five years, which is a definite improvement on existing rules.
Additionally, it appears that gratuity is not forfeited if you are terminated through ‘gross misconduct’, the old article 120 (new clause 44) – a huge change!
Where can I go for help if I’m confused about the new rules?
As the new UAE labour laws will cover almost all private companies, your first port of call is the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) www.mohre.gov.ae/en/home.aspx. They can be contacted for free on 80060.
The current labour law is available through the MOHRE website and smart app, both of which are free to access.