Understanding employee rights and obligations becomes increasingly essential as the UAE grows as an international business hub.
This article provides an overview of top employee rights and responsibilities in the UAE, helping employees and employers navigate the nuances of the country’s labour laws.
Table of Contents
Employee rights and obligations: what are your rights as an employee?
The UAE Labour Law primarily governs employee rights in UAE. The law stipulates the conditions for employment, the rights and responsibilities of employees and employers, layoff employee rights, company obligations to employees and remedies for violations.
The UAE also has several online services to assist immigrant workers, including registering labour complaints, free zone complaints, salary complaints, and the registration of collective labour complaints. The UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) oversees these services.
Fundamental Rights of Employees in the UAE.
What are my legal rights as an employee? The UAE government has issued a “Know Your Rights” guide to educate workers about employee rights and obligations. The guide communicates seven key messages to foreign workers:
- Employment Contract. Employees are expected to sign their employment contract after arriving in the UAE.
- Recruitment Costs. The employer must bear recruitment costs, travel, and obtaining a residency permit in the UAE.
- Consistency of Contract Terms. The terms and provisions of the employment contract must be consistent with the job offer signed in the employee’s home country.
- Job Offer Document. Employees should keep a copy of their signed job offer.
- Reporting Irregularities. Employees should promptly contact MoHRE if the employer does not provide the agreed job opportunity or if the employee does not receive their full salary on time.
- Safekeeping of Documents. Employees should keep their identification documents secure.
- Job Termination. Employees can leave anytime but should know their legal obligations.
Legal Support for Workers.
The UAE has established court offices to support workers in labour disputes legally. Labour care units have also been established across the UAE to protect workers and raise their awareness about their rights.
Workers are exempt from paying litigation costs for claims less than AED 100,000. Articles 54 and 56 of the UAE Labour Law define individual and collective labour dispute provisions.
Laws and Initiatives to Protect Immigrant Workers.
The UAE is a significant recipient of foreign labour and a member of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Arab Labour Organization, and other labour-focused multilateral organizations. The UAE seeks to work transparently and objectively about its labour obligations.
Charging recruitment fees to prospective employees is illegal in the UAE. Confiscating workers’ passports is also prohibited, and workers do not require their employer’s permission to leave the country.
Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021.
This law, also known as the UAE Labour law, addresses harassment, bullying, physical violence, and psychological abuse against employees.
It prohibits forced labour and discrimination based on gender, race, colour, sex, religion, national or social origin, or disability. It also outlines employers’ obligations towards employees and bans the employment of children under 15.
Federal Decree Law No. (13) of 2022.
This law concerns the Unemployment Insurance Scheme and proposes six specific commitments for adoption within the Global Compact for Migration. These include:
- Implementing recruitment practices that comply with international standards.
- Ensuring all migrant workers have access to their rights and obligations before departure and after arrival.
- Ensuring safe and decent work conditions for all migrant workers, especially domestic workers.
- Holding the Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD) to address specific challenges facing migrant labour in the Asia-Gulf migration corridors.
- Introducing a domestic law that establishes the principle of informed consent, ensuring that workers are aware of the terms of the contract, the nature of work, the workplace, remuneration, and rest periods.
- Enforcing the wages protection system ensures employees are paid in full and on time.
Worker’s Protection Resources.
Several resources are available for workers to understand their rights and protections in the UAE. Some of these include:
- Labour rights in the UAE – Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, Washington DC
- Labour rights – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
Enhancing Work Conditions for Migrant Workers and Nationals.
The UAE government has made significant efforts to improve working conditions for all employees and create job opportunities.
The UAE has also developed several strategies for diversifying its national income based on a sustainable economy and increasing work opportunities.
Working Hours and Overtime in the UAE.
According to Article 17 of the Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of the UAE Labour Law 2021, the regular working hours within the private sector are 8 hours per day or 48 hours per working week.
Working hours can be increased to 9 hours per day for certain businesses with approval from MoHRE. During Ramadan, regular working hours are reduced by two hours daily.
According to employees rights at work, This is considered overtime if an employee is asked to work beyond regular hours.
The employee will receive a wage equal to the wage corresponding to the regular working hours, with an increase of not less than 25%. This can increase to 50% if overtime is completed between 10 pm and 4 am.
Leave and Vacations.
Employees are entitled to paid leave during the following eight public holidays:
- Gregorian New Year.
- Eid Al Fitr.
- Arafat and Eid Al Adha.
- Hijri New Year.
- Prophet Mohammed’s birthday.
- Martyr’s Day.
- National Day.
Employees are also entitled to annual leave. If they have completed six months of service but less than one year, they are entitled to 2 days per month. If they have completed one full year of service, they are entitled to 30 days of annual leave.
According to employee rights and obligations, an employee can take sick leave of not more than 90 days per year, subject to conditions stipulated in the law.
The employee will receive full pay for the first 15 days, half for the next 30 days, and no pay for the remaining 45 days. Sick leaves are subject to the employee providing a valid medical certificate from DHA/SEHA.
Regarding Female employee rights and obligations, they are eligible for 45 full days’ pay for maternity leave and the following 15 days with half pay. Furthermore, they can extend their leave at an unpaid rate for up to 45 days.
Nursing mothers are allowed two daily breaks to breastfeed their child during the first six months following the baby’s delivery, provided the two breaks do not exceed an hour.
Parental and Bereavement Leave.
Employees are entitled to a parental leave of 5 working days for caring for a newborn child. This leave can be taken continuously or intermittently within six months from childbirth.
Employees are also entitled to a bereavement leave of 5 days in case of the death of a spouse and three days in case of the death of a mother, father, son, brother, sister, grandson, grandfather, or grandmother.
Employees may be granted a study leave of 10 working days per year if they are enrolled or regularly studying at one of the educational institutions approved in the State to sit for exams, provided that the service term at the employer is not less than two years.
Essential Workplace Policies and Regulations for Employees.
What are the rights of employees in the workplace? Employees should be aware of several essential workplace policies and regulations.
These policies and regulations are designed to create a safe and fair work environment for all employees and ensure legal requirements compliance. Some of the most critical policies and regulations are:
Workplace Policies and Restrictions.
- No employer or employee may bring or allow others to bring any alcoholic drinks for consumption on work premises.
- During the hottest time of the day, construction and industrial workers are not permitted to work in open places.
Compensation and Protection for Employees.
Currently, no set minimum salary is specified in the UAE Labour Law. However, it states that salaries must cover the basic needs of a company’s employees.
The UAE Labour Law 2021 states that the minimum wage and cost of living index are determined in general or for a particular area or profession by a decree and consent of the Cabinet.
The WPS is crucial to guarantee and safeguard workers’ rights and establish trust between a company and its employees.
Under the WPS, employees’ salaries are transferred to the employee’s accounts in banks or financial institutions authorized by the Central Bank of the UAE to provide the service.
Employment Regulations and Benefits.
Regarding employee rights and obligations, if an employee resigns of their free will before completing one year, they will not be entitled to any gratuity payment.
However, if employees complete one year of continuous service and resign, they are entitled to a gratuity for the services of a fraction of a year.
Employees that work in free zones are typically not governed by the UAE Labour Law. Each free zone (over 50 UAE free zones) has its own employment/labour law. Therefore, employees are subject to the regulations of their respective free zone authority.
FAQs About employee rights and obligations.
Understanding employee rights and obligations in the UAE is crucial for employers and employees. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of these rights and obligations, helping you navigate UAE labour laws’ complexities.
If you have any queries about labour laws in the UAE, Younis Mohammed Al Blooshi Labour Lawyer & Legal Consultant is the best for labour cases in the UAE.
Contact the office of Younis Mohammed Al Blooshi via Whatsapp. Click here. Or visit us at our address: Sobha Ivory 1 – Al Amal St – Business Bay – Dubai. You can also call us on phone: 00971589984123.
A legal consultant specializing in UAE labor law. He regularly publishes articles on the website and writes on various areas of UAE law, with a specific focus on labor law.