top of page
  • Writer's pictureAkram Cheik - Lawyer


Updated: Feb 8

This article is no longer in force legal to refer to the article on the reform of labor law by the decree of 2022:

PART ONE: Labor law in the United Arab Emirates

As a preliminary point, it should be noted that all legal persons operating in the United Arab Emirates are subject to the labor laws of the country and must guarantee maximum compliance with labor law regulations, thus in order to help you to comply, we have made a selection of the most important articles of the United Arab Emirates labor code and commented on in order to facilitate the letter of the law. However, it is important to note that there are legislative variations between the application of labor law in the so-called free zones (Free-zone) and continental (Mainland), thus the labor law of the specific DIFC zone does not will not be studied.

In addition, many similarities can be noticed with the French labor code, the Emirati labor code is much less rich but will answer most questions. Despite the protective tendency towards employees, it should be noted that many conflicts do not reach the stage of litigation in court but are settled amicably. (The trial period is not treated here, it is the subject of an independent article)

This small guide is only intended to highlight some useful articles, to summarize and comment in order to facilitate the apprehension for French-speakers settling in Dubai. In addition, you can contact us for the opening of files with the Ministry of Labor.













Chapter 1 On the form of the contract

The employment contract is drawn up in duplicate, one copy given to the worker and the other to the employer. If there is no written contract, all the conditions of it can be established by all legal means of evidence.

Any provision contrary to the provisions of the contracts, even if it predates the date of entry into force of the latter, will be deemed void, unless it is more advantageous for the worker.

(The UAE labor code applies the principle of retroactivity in mitus: Softer substantive laws, on the other hand, are immediately applicable.)

The employment contract determines in particular the date of its conclusion, the date of the beginning of the work, the nature, the place and the duration of this one, if it is about a determined period, as well as the amount of the salary. .

Chapter 2 Regarding duration

The employment contract determines in particular the date of its conclusion, the date of the beginning of the work, the nature, the place and the duration of this one, if it is about a determined period, as well as the amount of the salary.

The employment contract is for a fixed or indefinite period. Thus, if it is a fixed term, it cannot exceed four years. This contract may be renewed by mutual agreement between the parties for one or more similar or shorter periods.

In the event of renewal of the contract, the new period or periods will be considered as an extension of the initial period and will be added to it when calculating the worker's total period of service.

The employment contract is deemed to be of indefinite duration since its creation in one of the following cases:

1 - If the contract is not in writing.

2 - If it is concluded for an indefinite period.

3 - If it is established in writing and concluded for a fixed term, and the parties continue to apply it after its expiry without a written agreement between them. (Tacit agreement)

4 - If it is entered into for a specific employment of indefinite duration, or which is of a recurring nature, and the contract continues after the completion of the agreed employment.

If the parties continue the application of the contract after the expiration of the initial period thereof or the end of the agreed employment without explicit agreement, the original contract will be deemed to be extended implicitly, under the same conditions mentioned therein at except for the term.

Chapter 3 Exemption from Court Fees

Lawsuits brought by workers or their beneficiaries are exempt from all legal costs in all phases of the litigation and the execution according to the provisions hereof.

These lawsuits will be heard as soon as possible.

Chapter 4 Categories

In implementing the provisions hereof, the following terms and expressions shall have the meaning attributed to each of them, unless the context otherwise requires:

Employer: Any natural or legal person employing one or more workers for a salary of any kind whatsoever.

Worker: Any man or woman working for pay of any kind whatsoever for the employer and under the direction and supervision of the employer, even out of sight of the employer. The term also includes employees working for the employer and subject to its provisions.

Establishment: Any economic, technical, industrial or commercial unit where workers are employed, aimed at producing or marketing goods or providing services of any kind.

Employment contract: Any fixed or indefinite term agreement concluded between the employer and the worker, by which the latter undertakes to work for the employer and under his management and supervision in exchange for a salary, the payment of which is hired by the employer.

Work: Any human effort exerted - whether intellectual, technical or physical - in exchange for a wage, whether permanent or temporary.

Temporary work: Work whose nature of execution or completion requires a fixed duration.

Agricultural work: Work of plowing and cultivation of the land, harvesting and fruiting of crops of any kind whatsoever, breeding of cattle, cattle, silkworms, bees and others.

Continuous service: Uninterrupted service for the same employer or his legal successor on the date of commencement of service.

Youth jobs

The legal age cannot be less than 15 years old (risk of deletion)

Before hiring any young person, the employer must obtain the following documents which he keeps in the personal file of the young person:

1 - A birth certificate or an official extract from it, or a certificate of estimated age issued by a competent doctor and authenticated by the competent health authorities.

2 - A certificate of health fitness for the required job issued by a competent and authenticated doctor.

3 - Written consent of the tutor

Chapter 5 Principle of national priority

Work is considered a right of UAE nationals. Others may work in the State only in accordance with the terms set forth herein and the decisions made pursuant thereto.

In the event of unavailability of national workers, employment priority will be given:

1 - To Arab workers of nationality of an Arab State.

(The labor code gives priority to national employees in the first instance and to workers from the Arab States in the second instance)

Chapter 6 Workers with other nationalities.

The Department of Labor can only consent to the hiring of non-nationals if it examines their records and ensures that there are no unemployed persons registered in the employment section, capable of exercising the work required.

Chapter 7 Hiring rule

It will not be permitted to employ non-nationals in the UAE without the prior consent of the Department of Labor and obtaining a work permit in accordance with the procedures and rules stipulated by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

Such a permit will only be granted if the following conditions are met:

A - The worker must have the professional skills or academic qualifications required in the country.

B - That the worker has entered the country legally and has met the conditions prescribed by the residence regulations in force in the State.

Chapter 8 Cancellation of the work card

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs can cancel the work card issued to non-citizens in the following cases:

A- If the worker remains unemployed for a period longer than three consecutive months.

B - If the worker can no longer fulfill one or more conditions on the basis of which the card is granted.

Chapter 9 Official Language

Arabic is the language used with respect to all records, contracts, files, data and the like provided for herein or in any settlement decision issued pursuant to its provisions. In addition, Arabic is the language used in the instructions and circulars sent by the employer to its employees. If the employer uses a foreign language in addition to the Arabic language, the Arabic text will prevail.

(Very important to remember, the common law of contracts gives a higher legal value to contracts written in Arabic, this rule obviously applies to labor law. Thus, you must always be careful to obtain a contract in Arabic and to s make sure you understand)

However, English is commonly used in all procedures and procedures.

Settlement of disputes (prior measure of conciliation)

Without prejudice to the provisions relating to collective labor disputes provided for herein, if the employer, the worker or any beneficiary thereof disputes the rights due to any of them pursuant to the provisions hereof, he shall submit a request accordingly to the competent labor service.

This service will summon the two parties to the dispute and take the necessary measures for the amicable settlement of the dispute.

In the absence of an amicable settlement of the dispute, the said Service must, within two weeks of the filing of the request, seize the competent court of the dispute. This reference is accompanied by a memorandum comprising a summary of the dispute, the parties' allegations and the service's observations. The court must, for three days from the date of receipt of the request, fix a meeting to hear the dispute where the two parties to the dispute are declared. The court may request the presence of a representative of the Ministry of Labor to ask him for explanations on the content of the memorandum thus presented.

In all cases, the claim for any right due pursuant to the provisions hereof cannot be heard after the expiry of one year from the due date thereof. In addition, no complaint will be accepted if it does not follow the procedures set out in this article.

(As explained in the introductory title, conflicts very rarely reach the litigation stage before the courts)

Chapter 10 Enforcement

The provisions hereof do not apply to the following categories:

A - Employees and workers of the federal government and government services in the Emirates, members of the state, employees and workers of public entities and institutions, whether federal or local, and employees and workers appointed for government, federal and local projects.

B - Members of the armed forces, police and security.

C - Servants in private households and similar occupations.

D- Workers on farms or pastures, with the exception of persons working in agricultural establishments processing the products of the latter or persons who permanently operate or repair mechanical machinery necessary for agriculture.

Chapter 11 Salary

By virtue of a decree-law taken on the proposal of the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs and with the agreement of the Council of Ministers, the minimum wage and the cost of living index are thus determined either in general or for a particular area or an individual.

The Minister submits his proposal for indexation or review of the minimum wage after consultation with the competent authorities and professional organizations of employers and workers, where applicable, and on the basis of studies and tables of fluctuations in the cost of living set by the competent State authorities, with a view to guaranteeing that the minimum limits are sufficient to meet the basic needs of workers and guarantee their "livelihood".

The minimum wage or the adjustments relating thereto will come into force from the date of publication of the order determining it in the Official Journal.

Wages are paid on a working day and at the place of work, in the national currency of the state.

Workers employed on an annual or monthly salary will be paid at least once a month. All other workers will be paid at least once every fortnight.

The daily wage of workers employed on a share basis is calculated as the equivalent of the average daily wage received by the worker for the days actually worked during the six months preceding the termination of service.

Payment to workers of the wages due to them, whatever their value or nature, can only be established in writing or by admission or oath. Any agreement concluded to the contrary, even if it was concluded before the entry into force of this law, will be deemed void.

The worker may not be required to purchase food or other products from certain stores or from the owner's products.

No amount may be deducted from the worker's salary in exchange for special rights except in the following cases:

A- The recovery of all advances or sums paid to the worker in excess of his rights, provided that the sum withheld does not in this case exceed 10% of the worker's periodic salary.

B- Installments legally payable by workers on their salaries such as social security and insurance systems.

C - Worker's contributions to the savings fund or loans due to him.

D- Payments of any social project or any other privileges or services granted by the employer and approved by the Department of Labor.

E- Fines imposed on the worker for any infraction committed by the latter.

F- Any debt paid in application of a court decision, provided that the amount deducted in application of the judgment does not exceed a quarter of the salary due to the worker. In the event of numerous debts or debtors, the maximum deduction will be equal to half the salary and the sums necessary for the deduction will be distributed proportionally between the beneficiaries after payment of the legal maintenance debt at the rate of a quarter of the salary.

Anything given to the worker in exchange for his service under a contract of employment, in cash or in remuneration, on an annual, monthly, weekly, daily, hourly basis, or on the basis of production or commission .

The salary includes the cost of living allowance and any subsidy granted to the worker in recognition of his honesty or his efficiency if these sums are fixed in the employment contracts or the statutes of the establishment or are granted in the usual way to the workers, considering these subsidies as part of the salary and not as a donation.

The salary stipulated in the employment contract for the duration thereof between the parties, excluding any compensation of any kind whatsoever.

Occupational injury: The maintenance by the worker of an occupational disease provided for in the attached schedule, or any other injury resulting from his work and occurring to him during and because of the exercise of his work. Any accident occurring to the worker on the way to or from work is considered to be an occupational injury, provided that this trajectory is made without stopping, prolonging or diverting the ordinary route.

By AKRAM CHEIK, Lawyer in UAE for Nextcap

168 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

댓글 1개

Leonard Carter
Leonard Carter
2 days ago

شكراً لك على مشاركة هذا الدليل المفيد حول قانون العمل في دبي. يعتبر هذا الدليل مصدرًا ثمينًا للمعلومات، خاصة للأفراد الذين يخططون للعمل في دبي. القوانين العمالية هناك مصممة لحماية حقوق العمال وضمان تلقيهم للرعاية الكافية. أود أيضًا أن أوصي بزيارة “صناديق” على xchief لمزيد من المعلومات القيمة حول هذا الموضوع

bottom of page