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Some key features of new UAE labour law: what you must know?

New labour legislation is set to take effect shortly after President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued Federal Decree-Law No 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Labor Relations. Dr Abdul Rahman Al Awar, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratization, unveiled the legislation, which had replaced the Federal Law No. (8) of 1980, during a news conference on November 15.

This article will discuss some significant features of Federal Decree-Law No 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Labor Relations referred to in this article as “the labour law”. It applies to both onshore firms licensed by the Department of Economic Development (DED) and companies formed inside a UAE free zone.

Some key features of the new Labour Law

  1. Drafting of New Employment contract
    With the legislation taking effect on February 2, 2022, private sector firms will be required to design new contracts. All private-sector employers must replace existing employment contracts with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MOHRE) with new employment contracts. Such employment contract must comply with the changes specified in Law No. 33 of 2021, within a maximum of one year from the date of the law’s implementation. The deadline for making these changes is February 1, 2023.
  2. Different types of employment contract 
    Following the release of the new Labour Law, workers in the UAE will soon have the choice of signing not only a full-time employment contract but a variety of employment contracts.Clause 3 of Article (8) of the new legislation titled ‘Employment contract’ states: “The Employment Contract must be executed for a certain duration of time not exceeding three years.” The employment contract may be extended or renewed one or more times for a period of equal or lesser duration.” It will have a direct influence on the duration of work contracts.Article 7 of the new law defines the types of employment contracts that an employee can sign.

    • Full-time employment contract– An employee employed on a full-time basis works full working days or hours.
    • Part-time employment contract– A part-time employment contract requires the employee to work a limited number of hours per week or per day.
    • c. Temporary employment contract– This is a term that refers to work that is performed for a specified time or is focused on a specific task and ends upon completion.
    • Flexible employment contract –This type of work in which working hours or days vary according to the amount of work and the employer’s economic and operational needs. The employee may work for the employer at various times throughout the day, depending on the circumstances and job requirements.
    • Any other contracts specified in this Decree-Executive Law’s Regulations.

    The executive regulation establishes the terms and conditions of employment contracts and the employee’s and employer’s respective obligations for each type.

    You may want to know: New UAE Labour Law: Termination rules during probation period revised

  3. New types of Leaves
    Employees will be able to take advantage of special leave under the new legislation.They are as follows:

    • Five-day mourning leave in the case of the death of a spouse or wife;
    • Three-day mourning leave in the event of the death of a father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, sons, brother, sister, or grandchildren, beginning on the day of death;
    • five-day parental leave is awarded to a worker who has a newborn kid within six months of the child’s birth and may be utilized intermittently or continuously to spend time with the family.
    • A ten-day study leaves employees who must take tests if they have worked for the same firm for two years.
    • The new rule also gives women a more extended maternity leave, with 45 days of full pay and the following 15 days of half pay and additional sections detailing how an employee may use sick leave and unpaid leave.
  4. Discrimination, forced labour, harassment, and bullying are all prohibited:
    MOHRE highlighted the different ways in which the new Labour Law tackles employee rights in a social media post emphasizing this feature of the new Labour Law. The UAE’s new Labor Relations Law Regulation reinforces the idea of equality of opportunity, emphasizing equal access to work and enjoyment of rights. It also forbids any types of discrimination, bullying, assault, harassment, coercion, and threats in the workplace.The employer may not use any measures to compel a worker to work for him or force him to perform labour or supply a service against his will, including threats of penalty. It also barred the employer, his supervisors at work, his coworkers, or those working with him from engaging in sexual harassment, bullying, or inflicting any verbal, physical, or psychological harm on the employee.”
  5. Equality of pay for equal work for men and women
    Aside from clauses outlawing discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, or social origin, Article 4 on ‘Equality; non-discrimination’ specifically mentions women’s right to equal treatment. The amendments affirmed that, without prejudice to the rights of working women stipulated in this Decree-Law, all provisions regulating worker employment without discrimination should apply to working women. The new Law Emphasizes granting women the same wage as men if they perform the same work or other work of equal value.
  6. Announcement of new work models
    One of the most notable changes in the decree-law was the introduction of new work models, which will improve the ease of doing business and the flexibility of the labour market. Full-time, part-time, temporary, and flexible employment are examples of these.These allow employers to meet their labour needs and benefit from their energies and productivity at the lowest operational costs through part-time, temporary, and flexible work. It also provides employers with several options for employing workers whose work contracts have expired and in the country through flexible and straightforward procedures.
  7. Non-competition clause
    Article 10 of the new legislation, which governs non-compete clauses in contracts, also incorporates revisions to the previous law, substantially enhancing an employer’s rights. Though the previous legislation, under Article 127, prohibits an employee from working for a future employer that conducts a company that competes with their former employer’s business, the former employer didn’t need to constrain the employee by writing a ‘Non-Compete Agreement.’ However, under the new rule, the employer must enter into a Non-Compete Agreement with the employee if it wants to safeguard its commercial interests.

You should know: Abu Dhabi drafted a new legislation for non-Muslims regarding Marriage, Divorce, Custody, and Inheritance

HHS Lawyers & Legal Consultants comprises a group of the most significant labour lawyers in Dubai and labour lawyers from Abu Dhabi and other Emirates. We provide a comprehensive range of services, including UAE labour law legal guidance, to help you become a more courteous and responsible employer. Employers must be informed of the employment regulations and effectively comply with them, critical for us. As a result, as UAE labour law experts, we guarantee that you are well-informed on all aspects of this and give you labour law guidance in Dubai.

For more than a decade, we have been one of Dubai’s premier labour law companies. Our skilled attorneys will give you outstanding service while adhering to global standards since they completely understand the local legal system and procedures. The unrivalled quality of our service would alleviate you of any responsibilities or discomfort, establishing you as a decent business citizen.

To learn more about the New UAE Labour Law, contact us today.


Hazim Darwish

Hazim Darwish, is a Senior Partner of HHS Lawyers in UAE. Practicing law for almost a decade, he has in-depth knowledge on UAE legislation with particular expertise on legal drafting, contract drafting, labor disputes, family law, and regulatory compliance for business organizations. Hazim Darwish also provides counsel on legal rights and obligations in the UAE to clients, including individuals and businesses subject to investigation or prosecution under Criminal Law by major regulators.