Employment Probationary Period in Dubai and UAE
Important: None of this is legal advice or authoritative information. Contact a lawyer and/or the UAE Ministry of Labour (MOL) and/or other UAE authorities for official information. This is only our understanding of the situation in the UAE, and we might be wrong.
Information about the Employment Probationary period in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and other emirates in the UAE. Resignation during the probationary period, the labour ban, and what the employment probation period means for new employees in the UAE.
- The UAE Employment Probationary Period is a period of time during which the employer gets to try out new employees and toss them out if they're not satisfactory. A bit like using a changing room in a clothes store before deciding on a purchase.
- But don't panic too much. As employers have (or should have) gone to some expense and trouble to bring employees to the UAE - paying for visas and flights etc, they're not likely to throw you out just because you brushed your hair funny one morning.
- Be wary if employers don't get your labour permit and residence visa organised promptly. A common delaying tactic is to claim the ministry is slow at processing them, but it is possible that the employer wants to wait until you've completed probation. You can complain to the UAE Ministry of Labour if the paperwork isn't being processed.
- If you have entered the country on a UAE visit visa instead of an employment visa, then you are in a grey area with respect to your probation period. You are also working illegally and are at risk of a fine, jail, deportation, and blacklisting for both immigration and employment in Dubai and the UAE.
UAE Labour Law and probation periods
- The term worker and employee mean the same thing when used here, and apply to both male and female employees.
- UAE Labour Law quotes are taken from the English version of the Federal Law No 8, 1980, on the Regulation of Labour Relations. Only the Arabic version is valid in a UAE court of law though.
Article 37 of the UAE Labour Law says "A worker may be employed on probation for a period not exceeding six months, during which the employer without notice or severance pay may terminate his services. A worker shall not be placed on probation more than once with the same employer. Where a worker successfully completes the period of probation and continues in employment, the said period shall be calculated as part of his period of service."
- Maximum length of the probation period is six months. Three months is a common period of time in the UAE.
- Individual contracts might specify how long a probation period is, and under what conditions an employee can resign, or an employer can dismiss an employee.
- The UAE Labour Law does not apply to employees of the Federal Government, Municipalities, other federal or local authorities, "employees recruited against federal and local governmental projects", Armed Forces, Police and Security Forces. Nor to domestic workers, or some farming workers. So probationary periods might be longer for workers recruited into those areas.
Resignation during probation period in the UAE and being fired / dismissed
Employers can dismiss workers without notice during the probation period in the UAE. It is not clear that the reverse is permitted i.e. resignation by the employee without notice during the probation period. Employees would be wise to assume they must give proper notice during the probation period (one month for indefinite/unlimited contracts, or whatever is specified in limited contracts). Sometimes workers have resigned with no notice without penalty, but assume that is because the employer couldn't be bothered chasing after them, not because the law was on the side of the employee.
- Article 37 of the UAE Labor Law says that an employer can fire a worker without notice. It does not specify that a worker can resign without notice, but nor does it say a worker cannot resign without notice which might explain the belief that employees can just walk off the job and do a runner, so to speak. This belief might be mistaken.
- Article 120-2 of the UAE Labour Law says "An employer may dismiss a worker without notice if and only if the worker: ... Is engaged on probation and is dismissed during or at the end of the probationary period." Article 120 deals with the conditions under which and employer can terminate an employee without notice. Article 121 deals with the conditions under which an employee can resign without notice, and there is no condition related to the probationary period in Article 121.
- "If the worker's contract is for an unlimited period, and there have been no violations or problems with the employer, he may submit his resignation during the probationary period after providing the employer with one month's notice or the agreed period in the contract." - answer provided by Advocate Mohammad Ebrahim Al Shaiba of Al Bahar Advocates and Legal Consultants in Gulf News Ask The Law 16 August 2008.
- "Only the company has the right to terminate employment during the probation period. ... According to the Labour Law, a worker who signed an employment contract of unlimited period may quit on his/her own, but after serving notice to the employer. If the worker fails to do so, the company has the right to demand compensation or cut the worker's end of service benefits." - answer from Advocate Samir El Azrak of Abdul Rahman Al Muttawa & El Azrak, Advocates and Legal Consultants in Gulf News Ask The Law 17 January 2003.
- The Al Tamimi (a UAE based legal firm) handbook of the UAE Labour Law says "During the probation period, both the
employer and the employee may terminate the employment contract with immediate effect without providing a valid reason
or notice." Which seems to contradict the previous comments, and Al Tamimi usually seem to know what they're talking about.
Labour Ban if resigning during the probation period in the UAE
- There is at least an automatic 6 month labour ban (not the same as an immigration ban) imposed on workers if they resign from a job within 1 year, which includes workers on probation. The employer might be able to request a 1 year employment ban from the MOL.
- Obtaining an NOC does not exempt workers from the ban if they have been employed for less than one year.
- Exceptions might be possible upon payment of a ban lifting fee, or if moving to a UAE government job.
- An immigration ban will probably not be imposed, unless the employee has absconded (assume a lifetime ban in the worst case). Immigration bans are unlikely but still possible if the employee has broken contract, or broken the labour law in some way. Especially if the employer is in a bad mood and has wasta with the immigration department.
- See the UAE labour ban information for more details.
Gratuity and benefits during UAE probation period
- If a worker leaves before the end of the probation period, whether by resigning, or by being terminated by the employer, s/he is not entitled to any benefits as far as we understand the UAE labour law.
- However, on successful completion of the probation period, that time is counted towards end-of-service benefits and gratuity when the employee does end their employment in the UAE (notwithstanding any other factors which might affect the final payout).
Sick Leave while on probation in the UAE
- There is no paid medical leave while on probation.
- Article 82 of the UAE Labour Law says "A worker shall not be entitled to any paid sick leave during the probationary period."
Last update Monday 01-Mar-2010. Page development 4L 5C.