What are the Changes in New UAE Labour Law Compared to the Previous UAE Labour Law?

The new UAE Labour Law has come into effective from February 2, 2022 with major reforms that safeguard the rights of employees in the private sector.

The new law – Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021 – which replaces the earlier legislation – Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 – covers the entire gamut of labour relations. It has introduced a series of changes to the previous law. 

Here are the major changes in UAE Labour Law with effect from February 2, 2022.

NoMajor Changes in AreasFederal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021Federal Law No. 8 of 1980
1Labour ContractLimited Contract Only. The contracts are to be renewed several times under the agreement of both parties.Limited & Unlimited Contracts
2Termination/Resignation during probationEmployer must give a notice of 14 days to terminate the contract during probation period, which will not be longer than six months.
Employees who want to change jobs during the probation period must give a month’s notice, or 14 days if they want to leave the country.
In this case, the new employer will have to compensate the old employer for the visa costs and expenses for the hiring of the ex-employee, if specified in the labour contract.
If an employee leaves the country then returns to take up a new job within three months, the new employer would have to pay the former employer for the visa costs and the labour expenses incurred, if specified in the labour contract.
If an employee leaves the country without any notice, the company reserves the right to recommend Labour Department to impose a one-year ban.
No Notice period is required to be given by either party
3Study LeaveAfter completing two years of work term with an employer, workers are entitled to 10 days study leave in a year, provided that they are enrolled in an accredited institution within the UAE.Not specified
4Annual leave during probationDuring probation period, annual leave can be taken based on the actual accrual.During probation, the annual leave is unpaid.
5Annual leave carry forwardCarry forward of unused leave is subject to employer approval. Employee must take leave in its year of entitlement.Annual leave can be carried forward to the following leave year. Forfeiting of annual leave is not allowed.
6Public holidays during annual leaveIf a public holiday falls during the period of annual leave, it will be counted as annual leave only. Public holiday will not be excluded from the annual leave daysNot specified.
7Leave encashment (Annual + Leave in Lieu)Only on basic salary.Basic + HRA.
8Maternity leaveA woman employee is entitled to 45 days maternity leave with full pay regardless of the period of service. This can be extended by another 15 days of leave with half pay.A woman employee is entitled to 45 days maternity leave with full pay after completion of one year of continuous service with the Company. If the period of service is less than one year, then maternity leave is paid on half pay basis.
9Maternity leave during miscarriage / still birth / upon death of an infant after birthMaternity leave also applies in circumstances where an employee miscarries after six months of pregnancy. In this case the maternity leave still applies i.e. A woman employee is entitled to 45 days maternity leave with full pay regardless of the period of service. This can be extended by another 15 days of leave with half pay. Further 45 days of extension without pay can be taken for pregnancy related sickness. An appropriate medical certificate must be produced.Not specified.
10Maternity leave after the child is born - disabled child or sick childIf the pregnancy results in delivery of a disabled or sick child, the employee is entitled to 30 days of full pay leave starting after the end of the maternity leave. This can be further extended by another 30 days without pay.Not specified.
11Compassionate leaveType 1 - Death of Spouse - Paid leave of 5 days in the event of the death of spouse
Type 2 - Death of other relatives - Paid leave of 3 days in the event of the death of parents, grandparents, siblings, children or grandchildren.
Not specified.
12Nursing breaksOne or two breaks not exceeding 1 hour a day for a period of 6 months.Two breaks for half an hour each for a period of 18 months.
13Settlement of gratuityLess than one year - no gratuity;
Less than five years of service - 21 days of basic salary per working year; After five years of service - first five years on 21 days of basic salary per year and subsequent years on 30 days of basic salary per year.
Less than one year - no gratuity;
After one year but before completion of three years of service - seven days basic salary per working year;
After three years but before completion of five years of service - 14 days basic salary per working year;
After five years of service - first five years on 21 days of basic salary per year and subsequent years on 30 days of basic salary per year.
14Non-competition clauseNon-competition clause can now be written into a contract. The maximum restrictive period is 2 years from the date of termination.Not specified
15Rest dayEveryone must have at least one rest day, with the option of more depending on their contract.If the work circumstances require that the Worker be employed on the rest day specified in the Employment Contract, or the internal work regulations, he shall be compensated with a substitute rest day.
16Termination of contract - specific to unauthorised absenceAbsent from over 20 inconsecutive days in one year, or over seven consecutive days without informing the employer.Absent from over 10 inconsecutive days in one year, or over seven consecutive days without informing the employer.

Apart from above changes, the new Labour Law enables employees to take up part-time jobs, besides their full-time jobs, without having to seek their employer’s permission. All they need is a temporary work permit and ensuring they do not work over 144 hours every three weeks to avoid burnout and ensure wellbeing.

Employees can work on a project or hourly basis under different work models, including flexible, temporary or part-time, while guaranteeing their rights in contractual agreements with employers.

The new law prohibits employers from withholding employees’ official documents and forcing them to leave the country after the end of the work relationship.

Employer are bound by a non-discrimination provision in the hiring process on the basis of race, gender, colour, religion, national origin, social origin, or on the basis of disability.

As per the new law, you can also avail of more flexible salary payment options from getting paid in different currencies to weekly, daily or hourly payment plans.

Also, a sub-section of the law is focused on all the penalties that employer may face, if they violate employee rights. The fines can range from Dh20,000 and go up to Dh10 million, depending on the severity of the violation.

Deena

Human Resource professional and writer.

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