This paper highlights eight key points on the rights and duties of employees by the UAE Labor Law. The featured points include the conditions for employment, probation periods, wages, leave entitlements, safety regulations, employee repatriation, dispute settlement; and labor inspections.
The Conditions for Employment
It is obvious that, for an expatriate employee to secure a job in the UAE, they must, first of all, apply to the ministry for approval. On the same note, new businesses should register with the ministry before they can be given the permit to hire staff. In addition to seeking the approval of the ministry to hire non-UAE nationals, businesses would also have to undergo various processes. Submission of a bank guarantee which acts as a security for the various benefits aligned to employees is the initial step here. A written employment contract would also be necessary where the potential employee is a UAE national. It is quite clear that a labor permit will not be granted to expatriate workers until they have successfully filed a written engagement contract with the ministry.
Employment for a probation period is guided by several rules. For example, the involved parties can decide to end the agreement once and for all without giving any notice. In a scenario where this happens, employees would not get any benefits from the employer’s side.
The maximum period for probation according to Article 37 of the Law is half a year. Once an employee has completed their probation, they become part of the permanent workforce, and this would enable them to be considered for full benefits. As it would be observed, employers will not be required to offer any benefits to workers who decide to end up their services without any notice. On the same note, workers who resign without a good reason in the course of their probation would cater for their repatriation. The probation period can be waived since it is not compulsory under the UAE regulations. However, this decision remains in the hands of the parties to the contract.
According to the law, wages would refer to all payments given to the employee to compensate for the services rendered at a given period. This can always be made on an appropriate date and time based on the agreement which had been reached upon by the parties. As it is observed here, the total payment will include living allowance costs and any grant that may be extended to the employee as a reward for their efficiency.
This particular point has offered some insight on the nature of the basic wage and the total wage as they are applied in the UAE Labor Law. Basic wage excludes all allowances given to the worker, while total wage is a remuneration that is inclusive of all the allowances provided to the employee. Wages are provided in any currency as agreed by the key parties in the contract. The UAE Federal Law of Evidence requires the parties in an employment contract to maintain evidence regarding payment of wages to avoid wage-related disputes.
The UAE Labor Law recognizes four common types of leaves which include annual leave, official holidays leave, sick leave, and maternity leave. Each of these leaves is governed by strict guidelines and conditions. In the case of annual leave, employees are entitled to a two-day leave every month, amounting to a minimum of thirty days in a year. Workers are paid their basic remuneration plus all the benefits and allowances entitled to them exclusive of any grants or bonuses.
UAE workers from both public and private sectors are entitled to several holidays. The official holidays would include but are not be limited to, national day, Isra and Al Miraj, Eid Al Fitr, Gregorian New Year’s Day, and Prophet Mohammed’s Birthday. All these holidays apply to persons from both the public and private sectors.
All employees are entitled to sick leave, and they should report to their employer any health condition or injury whenever they happen to find themselves in such unfortunate situations. According to UAE Labor Law, sick leave is fully paid only for the initial 15 days. The next 30 days receive a half wage, while any further period will go without wages.
Employed women in the United Arab Emirates are entitled to a paid maternity leave which amounts to one and half months, provided they have been under an employment contract for one year or more. However, the half wage would be offered for those persons who have served for less than a year.
As it would be observed, there are certain provisions about employees’ safety and wellbeing that have been specified by the UAE Labor Law. For instance, employees should be well protected from all forms of injury, hazards, fire accidents, and occupational diseases. This can be achieved through the use of protective gear and other safety equipment. Employers are also required to display detailed instructions on the worksite to help inform the workers more about the various risks facing them, and how they are expected to go about them. Employers should also provide well-equipped first aid kits to their employers in the workplace.
Employers must also ensure the maintenance of hygiene in the workplace. It is also the responsibility of the employers to ensure that workers have full access to standard medical attention, as is required by the ministry of health.
Repatriation of Employees
The UAE Labor Laws clearly emphasize the responsibility of employers regarding the repatriation expenses of their workers. In case the employee gets employment elsewhere in the UAE, the law would require the new employer to cater for their repatriation expenses after their services come to an end. However, in a case where the worker has terminated the contract, they would have to incur the costs of their repatriation.
A written application should be forwarded to the ministry with immediate effect, in incase a disagreement arises between parties of the contract. This application can’t be submitted just anywhere, but only to the ministry within the Emirates, where the employer’s premises are located. The application which sets out a summary of the arising matters is submitted in writing to the relevant department at the ministry, along with a registration fee of AED. 100. Different provisions of law would be provided to people of the same commercial premise who may be having claims against their boss. It should be understood that these foreign employment contracts are valid as contracts that are executed within the territories of the United Arab Emirates.
Labor inspections at any commercial entity are conducted by the Labor Inspection Department within the ministry. The inspectors who have the right to enter any commercial entity are required to identify themselves with identification labels that have been provided by the ministry. Apart from just inspecting businesses, labor inspectors also play a very significant role in ensuring that existing provisions of the law are well-adhered to by both employers and employees.