UAE labor laws: All you need to know about holidays, flexible working hours, gratuity in the private sector

UAE labor laws: All you need to know about holidays, flexible working hours, gratuity in the private sector

President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has issued a federal decree-law no. 33 for 2021 regulating work relations in the UAE private sector.

The new decree-law, which will take effect on February 2nd 2022, consists of 74 articles.

The new decree-law is aimed at creating balance and integration between public and private sectors with respect to leaves, holidays and working hours.

The rights of all UAE employees are also specified in the decree-law with respect to wages and end-of-service gratuity, where employees can get their wages in dirham or another currency as agreed in the labour contract.

Below are the most important points included in the new decree law:

— The decree-law stipulates that the employer may not use or threaten to use any means that will force the employee to work for him, or provide a service against his will.

— An expatriate employee on a full-time work system who has completed a year or more will be entitled to end-of-service gratuity at the end of his service to be calculated according to the basic pay as follows: 21 days for each of the first five years of service and 30 days for each year in excess. The current law used to calculate the end-of-service gratuity at 7 days for employees who did not complete 3 years, 15 days for those who completed 3 years and 21 days for those who completed 5 years.

— The decree exempted labour cases from judicial fees at all stages of litigation and execution. This also applies to the claims under Dhs100,000 filed by employees or their heirs.

— According to the new decree-law, ordinary working hours will not exceed 8 hours per day or 48 hours per week and employees will get at least one day-off per week. The law also specifies the hours in which work is banned and the overtime that may be worked as well as the related wages.

The firms have the rights to decide upon flexible hours on performances and needs of the market.

— Sexual harassment, bullying, or any verbal, physical or psychological violence is prohibited against the employee, and so is discrimination on the basis of race, colour, sex, religion, ethnic origin or social origin.

— Without prejudice to the rights granted to working women as stipulated in this decree-law, all provisions regulating the employment of workers without discrimination will apply to working women, who will have the same pay as men if they perform the same job or another work of equal value.

— New types of work have been created to allow employers to meet their labour needs and benefit from the employees’ energies and productivity at the lowest operational costs. These are part-time work, temporary work and flexible work. In addition, several options are provided to employers to employ employees whose labour contracts have expired and are still in the UAE through easy and flexible procedures.

— At the expiry of the labour contract, the employee may not be involved in any project that competes with his employer’s activity over or less than two years from the expiry date of the contract.

— It is prohibited to withhold the employee’s official documents or force him to leave the country as soon as the work relation is over. This means that the employee can shift to another facility and avail of the opportunities available in the labour market. In addition, employees must get their pay at maturity dates in accordance with the ministry-approved procedures specified in the executive regulations off this decree-law.

— The decree-law allows employees to work for other employers in the event of termination of the labour contract. It also sets a probation period of no more than six months in accordance with the conditions and procedures specified by the executive regulations.

— The employer’s obligations include but are not limited to establishing labour regulations, providing housing and means of protection and prevention and training employees and developing their skills.

— In contrast, employees’ obligations include performing work as per the work schedules, committing to good behavior and morals, keeping work secrets, striving to develop occupational skills, abstaining from working for other employers and vacating labour housing within a month from the end of the employment contract, among others.

— Employees are given one paid day off per week and may be given more at the discretion of their respective facilities.

— A number of leaves have been created including a mourning leave, which ranges between three and five days according to the degree of the deceased’s relatives, a five-day parental leave and any other leaves as resolved by the cabinet.

— Employers will bear the recruitment and employment fees, which should not be levied from employees, whether directly or indirectly.

— The decree-law specifies one type of contracts in terms of duration, i.e. contract of definite period of no more than three years. With the consent of the two parties, however, this contract may be extended or renewed for similar or lesser periods once or more. The provisions of the decree-law apply to employment contracts of indefinite period concluded in accordance with the federal law no. 8 for 1980.

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