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Labour Law in Dubai and the UAE

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UAE Labour Law in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and other emirates

Nothing on this page (or website for that matter) should be taken as proper, improper, or any other sort of legal advice or interpretation of UAE law. It is only our opinion or understanding of rules, regulations, and procedures in the UAE. You should consult a lawyer and/or the UAE labour department for professional and/or official information. Or at least read the UAE Labour Law yourself, and ignore anything we say, especially if you don't think it agrees with the law.

If you have a dispute or disagreement with your employer, it is important that you file a complaint with the UAE Ministry of Labour (MOL) first before going through the court system. The MOL will attempt to resolve a dispute, and it is not necessary to employ a lawyer to represent you at a MOL hearing. Judges in the court system will often (or always) throw out labour related cases if they have not been heard by the MOL first. Ref: Dubai Eye Legal Matters 02 Aug 2015 (3m40s).

It is against the labour law in the UAE for recruitment agents and companies to charge job candidates and employees any fees for any part of the recruitment process or residence visa and work permit application. Many still try, and that should set off warning bells regarding the nature of the employer. Within the UAE, they can be reported to the UAE Ministry of Labour who may or may not do anything about it. Either way, job applicants are likely to be better off moving on to another recruitment agent and/or employer who respects the law.

Treat all information on this page as unconfirmed unless directly obtained from an official source (UAE Ministry of Labour for example) as there are media reports with conflicting information. As is common in the UAE, when there are significant changes in the law, there is usually a period of confusion while:

Federal Labour Law Number 8 covers most of the essential rules and regulations you need to know with respect to salaries, termination, gratuity etc. It is (or was) available in English online at the UAE Ministry of Labour (MOL) website and in bookshops, and is worth familiarising yourself with.

You will probably hear many people complain that the employment contract is not worth the paper it's written on. Certainly there are people who've had an unpleasant job experience somewhere where things did not seem to go according to what they understood from their contract. Or worse. To minimise the risk of problems, keep in mind the following points.

Most jobs in Dubai have a probationary period of between one month and one year. During this time you can be dismissed without notice and are not entitled to any end of service benefits. It is not clear if this works both ways i.e. you can resign without notice. Some say the law says no, but people have successfully resigned from their jobs at short notice during probation.

The UAE Labour Law does not cover certain job categories (maids and other domestic workers, federal and government employees, agricultural workers) which seems to mean that people employed in those sorts of jobs have few, if any, rights. For example no gratuity payments, unless something is specified in a contract (but even then it sometimes seems as if a contract is not worth the paper it's written on). The following worker categories are exempted:

  1. Employees of the Federal Government and of governmental departments of the emirates of the Federation, employees of municipalities, other employees of federal and local public authorities and corporations, as well as employees who are recruited against federal and local governmental projects.
  2. Members of the armed forces, police and security.
  3. Domestic servants employed in private households, and the like.
  4. Farming and grazing workers, other than those working in agricultural establishments that process their own products, and those who are permanently employed to operate or repair mechanical equipment required for agricultural work.

New UAE labour law changes from January 2011

Retirement age in UAE
Part time work permits for students and other expat residents
Juvenile or teenage work permits
Short term and temporary labour permit in UAE
Changes to laws about part-time work in the UAE - January 2011
New rules for NOC, employment permit, and labour ban in Dubai and UAE - January 2011

Tel 800-6655 (toll-free in UAE) MOL helpline for questions.

NOC no longer needed in UAE?
New law for NOC and ban period in UAE

On 16 December 2010, the official UAE news agency, WAM, published news about the new UAE labour law regarding ban periods (Cabinet Resolution No 25 of 2010 regarding internal work permit at the Ministry of Labour, issued by the UAE Minister of Labour, Saqr Gobash).

  1. Transfer without NOC or ban is only possible if the employee has worked at least 2 years with the employer, and the employee and employer have terminated their relationship "cordially". The WAM report said The resolution says that the new employment permit will only be granted to the worker after the end of his work relationship with his employer without consideration of the legitimate six month period which is usually calculated after the cancellation of the worker's labour card, but stipulates two must-do conditions : firstly, the two contracting parties must have ended their work relationship cordially and secondly, the worker should have worked with his employer for two years at least- the duration of the new labour card which will be issued by early January.
  2. However, an employee can obtain a new work permit without the agreement of the sponsor at the end of the contractual period (2 years minimum?) in 2 cases: First : when the employer fails to honour his legally or contractual obligations. Second, in the condition of expiry of work relationship where the worker takes no responsibility such a complaint filed by the worker against his firm.
  3. Or, there are 3 situations in which a worker can get a new work permit even if s/he has been employed less than 2 years. First: When joining his new job, the worker should be classified in the first, second or third professional class and that his new salary should not be less than Dh 12,000, Dh 7,000 and Dh 5000 if he is in the first, second and third class respectively. Second:Non-compliance of the employer with legal, labour obligations towards the worker or in the case where the worker has no role in terminating the work relationship. Third: Shifting of the worker to another firm the employer owns it or has stakes in it.

Other points to note about the new Labour Law regulations (all unconfirmed as of December 2010)

Level   Education Minimum Salary Labour Card Fees
1 Skilled University degree AED 12,000 AED 300
2 Skilled Post secondary AED 7,000  
3 Skilled Secondary AED 5,000  
4 Unskilled      
5 Unskilled      
New company categories in UAE - 05 December 2010 (WAM)
Category Level Qualification Minimum Salary Minimum staff Emiratisation Cross-cultural compliance
First 1 (A) Degree AED 12,000 20% minimum 15%  
First 2 (B) Diploma AED 7,000 20% minimum 15%  
First 3 (C) Unskilled AED 5,000 20% minimum 15%  
Second 1 (A)   AED 12,000   minimum 15% minimum 75%
Second 2 (B)   AED 7,000   minimum 15% 50%-75%
Second 3 (C)   AED 5,000   minimum 15% below 50%
  1. First group of companies information in italics based on Emirates 24-7 report 11 January 2011 (Dh12,000 minimum salary for degree holders part of new company classification policy ... UAE Labour Ministry clarifies that amendment applies to only Category I firms under the new system), appears to conflict with or revise previous information giving similar requirements for Category II companies.
  2. Second group of companies is subdivided "based on their commitment to certain standards like emiratisation, wages and housing" according to comments from UAE Minister of Labour, Saqr Gobash (05 December 2010 WAM report).
  3. Third group of companies is those with 100 or more black points for labour law related offences and convictions such as recruiting infiltrators, human trafficking, providing wrong information regarding the wages protection system (WPS), or failing to observe emiratisation policy. Companies can be fined from AED 15,000-20,000 for such offences.
    • Category III companies required to pay AED 3,000 bank deposit per worker up to a maximum of AED 10 million.
Minimum salary in UAE - February 2011
New labour permit fees UAE - December 2010

New Ministry of Labour (MOL) fees reported in Al Khaleej newspaper 20 & 29 December 2010 (as per Article 2 of Ministerial Decree No 26 of 2010), costs and fees effective from January 2011:

Fee category Amount (AED) Frequency Notes
MOL registration fee for new companies 2,000 once  
Digital signature processing for new companies 250 once  
Companies employing non-Emirati PROs 2,000 2 yearly  
Lost or damaged PRO card 200    
Labour card for employees under family sponsorship 2,000 2 yearly  
Labour card for category 1 workers 300 2 yearly  
Labour card for category 2 level A workers 600 2 yearly  
Labour card for category 2 level B workers 1,500 2 yearly  
Labour card for category 2 level C workers 2,000 2 yearly  
Labour card for category 2 workers 5,000 2 yearly  
Labour card for employees over 65 years old 5,000 2 yearly  
Temporary work permits for minors (15-18 yrs old) initial fee 100    
Temporary work permit up to one year for minors 500 annual  
Transfer fee to new company 300 once  
Labourer importing fee per company (initial) 10,000    
Labourer importing fee per company renewal 5,000 annual  
Fine for delayed labour card application (after 60 days) 1,000 monthly  
Maximum retirement age in UAE - change reported 30 December 2010

Other UAE Labor Law information

Updates to the Labor Law in Dubai and the UAE
Salary cuts for workers in the UAE
Employers keeping expat workers' passports in UAE
Common UAE Labour Law questions
Precedence of contract over UAE Labour Law
Financial compensation for arbitrary dismissal or breaking contract in the UAE
Gratuity and severence pay in the UAE
Links to UAE Labour Law documents and PDF downloads - if it's on the MOL website you should be able to rely on it being an official version. If link not available, try Home >> Labour Law >> Legal Affairs >> click the small text link which says "PDF".

Last update Monday 10-Aug-2015. Page development 3D 4L 5C.
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