Debunking UAE Labour Law Myths

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UAE labour law and your rights – debunking the myths.
Uncertainty over labour law and employment regulations in the UAE are some of the most frequent questions asked of lawyers in the country.

UAE Labour Law
Debunking UAE Labour Law Myths

Some fundamental and common UAE labour law information is noted below.

The most commonly asked questions centre around:

  • End of service benefits (gratuity)
  • No Objection Certificates and labour bans
  • Notice periods
  • Recovery of visa costs by employers

Who should receive a gratuity payment at end of service?

  • The entitlement to gratuity depends on whether the contract is for a limited or an unlimited period of time.
  • Should an employee chooses to resign from a limited-term contract before completing their fixed term, the employee is not entitled to gratuity.
  • Should an employee under an unlimited contract resign before completing one year of service, the employee is not entitled to any gratuity.
  • If the resignation comes after completing one but, less than three years of service, gratuity is calculated at seven days salary for each year.
  • If it comes after completing three but less than five years of service, gratuity is calculated at 14 days salary for each year.
  • After completing five years of service, gratuity is calculated at 21 days salary for each year, and for anything over this, the gratuity is split: 21 days for the first five years, and 30 days for each year thereafter.

Are No Objection Letters required to change jobs?

If an employee has completed two years of service, they don’t require a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from their current employer, should they wish to change employment.

Can employees be asked to leave without notice?

An employee is required to serve the prescribed notice period in the labour contract.

The law states that a notice period must be a minimum of one month, and may be increased by contract, but not decreased. An employer who asks an employee to leave work immediately upon resignation or termination must allow them to serve the notice period, or compensate them by salary in lieu of such notice. Similarly, an employee must pay compensation to the employer if they don’t wish to serve the notice period.

Who recovers the cost of the visa?

Quite simply, it is against the labour law for an employer to deduct visa or labour costs from an employee’s monthly salary. These costs are the responsibility of the employer and not the employee.

Every case is different however, and whilst it is good to have an understanding of the law and your rights, it is always always advisable to seek legal advice, or approach the Ministry of Labour Affairs, in case of any doubts or queries.

(Written by Swati Khanna – Founder of Arcturus Advisors, a Dubai-based legal advisory consultancy, focusing on corporate and commercial law, with the free online legal helpline ‘Ask a Legal Question’.)


Photo: Susan von Struensee/Flickr


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