The Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratization has announced a revision to the labour laws in the United Arab Emirates. These changes apply to employees in the private sector. Some of these were introduced earlier but the deadline for compliance falls in this year.
Here are some of the key changes employers and employees must be aware of in 2023.
As per the new employment law, private businesses (except those in DIFC and ADGM) must follow fixed-term contracts for their workforce. However, the employer can discuss and decide the length of the term.
Those who are currently on unlimited-period employment contracts have to be converted. The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) issued a Ministerial Resolution (No. 27 of 2023) to extend the deadline till 31 December 2023.
Employees who wish to switch jobs during probation need to give 14 days of notice to their current employers. If the new company is based in the UAE, the notice period is 30 days. The aforesaid periods apply even in the case of termination. However, the minimum notice period after probation is 30 days. Furthermore, the new employer is expected to compensate the current employer.
As per the new law, all employers have to provide at least one rest day in a six-day week. Earlier the rest day was only on Friday. This implies that the number of working hours of an employee should not exceed 48 per week. During the month of Ramadan, the number of working hours is reduced by two every day.
Employers based in the UAE can ask their employees to work two hours of overtime per day to complete emergency tasks or handle excessive workloads. However, there is an exception to the rule: If there is a serious accident or a situation that’s likely to result in loss, the employer can request more than two hours of overtime per day.
The new UAE law aims to protect all employees by creating a level-playing field. Employers cannot deny employment on the grounds of race, religion, gender, nationality or handicap. Everybody is entitled to receive the same salary for the same type of work. Since every organisation is expected to be an equal-opportunity employer, employees can be more confident while applying for jobs.
Every female employee is entitled to a maternity leave of 60 days in a calendar year.
The employee is eligible to receive the full salary for 45 days and half the salary for the remaining 15 days. Five days of parental leave can be availed within six months of childbirth. Employees who have completed 2 years of service are eligible for 10 days of study leave, provided the institution is recognised.
No doubt employees hate termination. But the new law gives employers the option for termination if there is a legitimate reason. Of course, they need to give the required notice to the concerned employee. This does not mean that the fixed-term contract clause can be ignored. Also, an employer can resort to this action during inevitable circumstances like insolvency.
Aiming to fortify its economy and safeguard its workers’ rights, the UAE has launched several reforms. The changes in the labour laws are an example, and the objective of this move is to attract and retain skilled talent. Employers who fail to comply with the new laws are likely to pay hefty fines. But if they abide by the laws, they can benefit from better employee satisfaction, productivity and business growth.