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New UAE labour law highlights include minimum wages and flexi hours!

The UAE has recently announced a new labour law that presents the largest set of employment reforms aimed at empowering private sector employees. Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021 on regulating labour relations, effective February 2, 2022, will restore the UAE workplace to international best practices in terms of preserving employee rights and attracting talent to a modern work environment.

New labour law highlights include:

1. Paternity, maternity, academic leaves

Working fathers will receive a five-day paternity leave that can be taken concurrently or intermittently following the birth of their child. Maternity leave for mothers is fully paid for 45 days. Under the new law, it is extended to an additional 15 days at half pay. In case of illness, new mothers are entitled to an additional 45 days of unpaid leave once the maternity leave is over. However, a medical certificate is required.

An unemployed mother who has a disabled baby can extend her maternity leave by 30 additional days, which can be added to the 30-day basic maternity leave. If you lose a spouse, you have a five-day grieving period, and if you lose a parent, child, sibling, grandchild or grandparent, you have three days. After two years with an employer, workers are entitled to a 10-day study leave if they are enrolled in a recognized institution within the UAE. Also, employees are entitled to a paid day off each week with the option of increasing rest days at the company’s discretion.

2. New work models

With the new models introduced to adapt to the post-Covid-19 world, employees can now work on a project or hourly basis for more than one employer. Part-time, temporary, or flexible contracts are also available, along with regular full-time contracts. Work for a part-time employer is scheduled for a certain number of hours or days per week, while temporary employment can be on a project basis or for a specific time period.

Additionally to full-time employment, flexible work allows employees to work at different times depending on the job requirements and conditions. According to the law, work hours, days, and requirements are covered. Self-employment and condensed working weeks, which let employees work fewer hours in a week instead of one, as well as a shared-job model based on an agreement with the employer, will also be introduced.

3. Probation rules

The probation period remains at six months, but employers must give a written 14-day notice before terminating the employee. Previously, termination during probation was effective immediately. During probation, employees who want to change jobs must give one month’s notice. During probation, they must give a 14-day notice if they plan to leave the country. An employee who leaves the country while on probation will be barred from obtaining a work permit for one year. By violating these rules, one of the parties is required to pay the other a sum equivalent to regular workdays of the remaining notice period.

4. Removal of unlimited contracts

Employers will only be permitted to issue limited (fixed-term) contracts starting next year, renewable every three years for the same or lesser period, upon mutual agreement. The elimination of unlimited contracts helps to unify end-of-service benefits across the country. From the law’s date of implementation on February 20, 2022, employers will have one year to amend and correct their employment contracts.

5. Minimum wage

This new law sets a minimum wage for private-sector workers in an unprecedented move. After the Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation submits a proposal, the UAE Cabinet will determine the minimum wage. UAE labour law did not set a minimum wage other than to specify that salaries should cover employees’ basic needs.

6. Coverage of repatriation costs

Repatriation costs are borne by the employer in the event of the death of a worker. Within 10 days of the worker’s death, the employer shall also pay the worker’s wages, benefits, and severance expenses to the worker’s family.

7. Right to remain in the country after quitting

After the termination of a contract or the end of a work relationship, employers cannot force employees to leave the country. Workers are free to switch employers and continue to benefit from the labor market under the new law. Employers cannot confiscate employee documents under this.

8. Anti-discrimination and harassment provisions

By law, employers are no longer allowed to discriminate based on gender, race, colour, nationality, religion, social origins, or disability in the hiring process. Additionally, the law protects employees from sexual harassment, bullying, verbal, physical or emotional abuse by employers, superiors, and colleagues. Employers must not use force to force employees to perform an action against their will or threaten to penalize employees for failing to perform such an action.

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9. Women empowerment

Women doing the same job, or other work of equal value, as men are guaranteed equal pay under the law. The cabinet will determine later the value of the work. It is emphasized in the law that all provisions governing the employment of workers should apply to women without discrimination.

10. Judicial fees exemption

Workers are exempt from judicial fees at all stages of litigation, enforcement, and petitions filed by workers or their heirs not exceeding 100,000 dinars. Also, it stipulates that the employer shall bear recruitment and employment fees and expenses and shall not recover them directly or indirectly from the employee.



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