UAE Labor Law: A Quick and Easy Guide in 2024 | INS Global
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UAE Labor Law: A Quick and Easy Guide in 2024

UAE Labor Law: A Quick and Easy Guide in 2024

July 1, 2024

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Key Takeaways

  1. The primary legislation governing employment relationships in the UAE is Federal Law 8 of 1980, also known as the UAE Labor Law
  2. Employers must provide a copy of any employment contract to the relevant employee as well as ensuring it is registered with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE).
  3. Local expertise ensures that your contracts are clear, enforceable, and aligned with UAE llabor laws
Summary

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has rapidly evolved into a global business hub, attracting companies from around the world. Its strategic location, robust infrastructure, and business-friendly environment make it an attractive destination for international expansion. However, navigating the complexities of UAE labor law is essential for any business looking to establish a presence in the region.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the key aspects of UAE labor law and explain how partnering with an Employer of Record (EOR) like INS Global can streamline your compliance efforts and support your business expansion into the UAE.

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Understanding the Fundamentals of UAE Labor Law

The primary legislation governing employment relationships in the UAE is Federal Law 8 of 1980, also known as the UAE Labor Law. This law covers a wide range of topics, including employment contracts, working hours, leave entitlements, termination procedures, and more.

Understanding these regulations is crucial for maintaining compliance and avoiding legal issues.

Employment Contracts in UAE

Employment contracts in the UAE are critical for defining the terms and conditions of the employment relationship. They must be written in Arabic, but bilingual contracts are common to accommodate expatriate employees. There are two main types of employment contracts in the UAE: limited-term contracts and unlimited-term contracts.

Limited-Term Contracts

Limited-term contracts are fixed-duration agreements that typically last for up to two or three years. They are often used for project-based or temporary employment. Upon expiration, these contracts can be renewed, but if not renewed, they automatically terminate.

Unlimited-Term Contracts

Unlimited-term contracts do not have a fixed duration and continue indefinitely until terminated by either party. These contracts are more common for permanent employment positions.

Key Elements of Employment Contracts

  • Job Description – A detailed description of the employee’s role and responsibilities.
  • Compensation – Information on salary, bonuses, and other benefits.
  • Working Hours – Specification of working hours and days off.
  • Probation Period – Details of any probation period, typically up to six months.
  • Notice Period – Terms for terminating the contract, including the required notice period.

Legal Requirements

Employment contracts must comply with the UAE Labor Law, and any terms that contradict the law are considered invalid. Employers must provide a copy of the employment contract to the employee and ensure it is registered with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE).

Working Hours and Overtime

Understanding the regulations surrounding working hours and overtime is essential for maintaining compliance and ensuring fair treatment of employees.

Standard Working Hours

In the UAE, the standard working hours are 48 hours per week, typically spread over 6 days, with a maximum of 8 hours per day. During the holy month of Ramadan, working hours for Muslims are reduced to 6 hours per day.

Overtime Pay

Employees who work beyond the standard working hours are entitled to overtime pay. Overtime is compensated at a rate of 125% of the regular hourly wage, and if overtime is worked between 9 PM and 4 AM, the rate increases to 150%.

Additionally, if employees are required to work on their day off or during public holidays, they are entitled to compensatory rest days or additional pay.

Exceptions and Flexibility

Certain categories of employees, such as those in managerial or supervisory positions, may be exempt from standard overtime regulations. Furthermore, flexible working arrangements and remote work have become more common, particularly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

An EOR like INS Global can assist in drafting compliant employment contracts that meet legal requirements and protect your business interests. Our expertise ensures that your contracts are clear, enforceable, and aligned with UAE labor regulations.

INS Global can help you navigate these complexities by ensuring your payroll systems are compliant with local laws. We track varying regulations and ensure accurate compensation for overtime work, reducing the risk of legal disputes and enhancing employee satisfaction.

legal protection scales

Types of Leave: Understanding Entitlements under UAE Labor Law

The UAE Labor Law provides various types of leave to help employees balance their work and personal lives. Understanding these entitlements is crucial for compliance and fostering a supportive workplace culture.

Annual Leave

Employees are entitled to annual leave based on their length of service:

  • Less than a year – 2 days of leave per month
  • 1+ year of service – 30 calendar days of leave per year

Annual leave is fully paid, and employees are entitled to their regular salary during this period. Employers must ensure that employees take their annual leave and cannot replace it with cash compensation unless the employment contract is terminated.

Sick Leave

Employees are entitled to up to 90 days of sick leave per year, provided they present a medical certificate. Sick leave is compensated as follows:

  • First 15 days – Full pay
  • Next 30 days – Half pay
  • Remaining 45 days – Unpaid

Employers must ensure compliance with these provisions and maintain accurate records of sick leave.

Maternity Leave

Female employees are entitled to 45 days of maternity leave, which includes both pre- and post-delivery periods. This leave is fully paid if the employee has completed at least one year of service; otherwise, it is half-paid.

In addition, female employees can take an additional 100 days of unpaid leave if required due to health reasons related to pregnancy or childbirth.

Paternity Leave

Male employees are entitled to 5 days of fully paid paternity leave, which can be taken within six months of the child’s birth.

Other Leave

UAE Labor Law also provides for other types of leave, including Hajj leave (for Muslim employees to perform pilgrimage), bereavement leave, and study leave. Employers must be aware of these entitlements and ensure compliance.

Partnering with an EOR like INS Global ensures that all leave entitlements are properly managed and compliant with UAE labor laws. We handle leave administration, from tracking entitlements to ensuring accurate payroll adjustments, helping you maintain a supportive and compliant workplace.

Notice Periods in UAE

Notice periods are a fundamental aspect of UAE employment law, providing a fair and reasonable timeframe for ending an employment relationship.

Minimum Notice Periods

Notice periods in the UAE vary depending on the type of employment contract:

  • Limited-Term Contracts: Typically, no notice period is required if the contract ends on the agreed-upon date. However, if either party wishes to terminate the contract before its expiration, a notice period of at least 30 days is usually required unless otherwise specified in the contract.
  • Unlimited-Term Contracts: The minimum notice period is 30 days. However, the notice period can be extended by mutual agreement between the employer and the employee.

Pay in Lieu of Notice

Employers can provide pay in lieu of notice, meaning the employee receives their regular salary for the notice period without being required to work. This option is often used to facilitate a smooth transition and avoid potential workplace conflicts.

Termination Agreements

In some cases, employers and employees may mutually agree on a termination agreement that specifies the notice period, severance pay, and other terms. These agreements must comply with UAE labor laws and are often used to amicably resolve employment relationships.

INS Global can assist you in managing notice periods and termination processes, ensuring compliance with UAE labor laws, and minimizing the risk of disputes. Our expertise in handling complex termination scenarios can protect your business and maintain positive employee relations.

Termination in UAE

Termination of employment in the UAE must be conducted in accordance with strict legal procedures to avoid potential legal disputes and ensure fair treatment of employees.

Just Cause Termination

Termination for just cause occurs when an employee is dismissed for serious misconduct, such as theft, fraud, or severe performance issues. In such cases, the employer must provide evidence to support the termination and follow due process, including conducting a thorough investigation and allowing the employee to respond to the allegations.

Termination Without Cause

Termination without cause involves ending the employment relationship for reasons not related to misconduct. This can include redundancy, restructuring, or other business-related reasons. Employers must provide notice or pay in lieu of notice and, in some cases, severance pay.

Redundancy and Collective Dismissals

When terminating multiple employees due to redundancy, employers must follow specific procedures, including consulting with employee representatives,  being familiar with UAE labor law, and notifying MOHRE. This ensures that employees are treated fairly and given appropriate support during the transition.

Wrongful Dismissal

Wrongful dismissal claims arise when an employee believes they were terminated without proper cause or due process. These claims can lead to costly legal disputes, making it essential to follow correct procedures and maintain thorough documentation.

Establishing an Entity in UAE: What Company Types are Available?

Setting up a business entity in the UAE involves several legal and administrative steps. Choosing the right type of entity is crucial for aligning with your business goals and ensuring compliance with local regulations.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a prevalent business structure in the UAE, accommodating both local and foreign ownership. An LLC requires at least two shareholders, with a maximum of 50. One of the primary advantages of an LLC is the limited liability protection it offers to its shareholders, which ensures that personal assets are protected against business debts and liabilities.

Additionally, LLCs provide flexibility in management and can engage in a wide range of business activities. However, a significant drawback is the requirement for a local sponsor, a UAE national, to hold at least 51% of the shares. Despite this, foreign investors can maintain full operational control over the business.

Free Zone Company

Free Zone Companies in the UAE offer a unique advantage with 100% foreign ownership and exemption from import and export duties. With over 45 free zones across the UAE, each tailored to different industries, these zones provide a favorable environment for businesses.

The primary benefits include full foreign ownership, tax exemptions, and simplified import/export procedures, making them attractive to international investors. However, the operations of free zone companies are limited to conducting business within the free zone or internationally; they cannot directly engage in business activities on the UAE mainland.

Branch Office

A branch office serves as an extension of a foreign company in the UAE, allowing it to operate without establishing a separate legal entity. This setup permits the branch to engage in commercial activities similar to those of the parent company.

Advantages of a branch office include the absence of a share capital requirement and full ownership by the parent company, providing continuity and control. Nonetheless, a local agent, a UAE national, is required to act as a service agent for the branch. Additionally, the branch office is not entirely independent from the parent company, which can limit its autonomy.

Representative Office

A representative office in the UAE is designed for foreign companies to market and promote their products and services without conducting commercial activities. This type of office cannot generate revenue or engage in sales.

The advantages of a representative office include its lack of a share capital requirement. However, its activities are restricted to marketing and promotional efforts, which means it cannot participate in any revenue-generating operations. This limitation makes it suitable for companies that aim to establish a presence in the UAE market without engaging in direct sales.

UAE labor law

Conclusion – Why Choose INS Global for Your UAE Expansion?

Expanding into the UAE offers significant opportunities for growth and development. However, navigating the complexities of UAE labor law and establishing a compliant business entity can be challenging. Partnering with INS Global simplifies this process, providing you with the expertise and support needed to ensure a successful expansion.

Our EOR services cover all aspects of UAE labor law compliance, from drafting employment contracts to managing payroll and benefits. We handle the administrative and regulatory burden, allowing you to focus on your core business activities. With INS Global, you can enter the UAE market with confidence, knowing that all legal and compliance requirements are met.

Choose INS Global for your UAE expansion and benefit from our comprehensive support, expert guidance, and cost-effective solutions.

Contact our experts for a free consultation today, and let us help you navigate the complexities of UAE labor law and establish a successful presence in this dynamic and thriving market.

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