Labour Law in Dubai Overview

Labor Laws in the UAE are well defined because a large part of the population is comprised of expatriate workers. That is why the labour laws of the country are at a federal level and do not change from emirate to emirate. The labor laws in Dubai cover pretty much every aspect of employment from hiring to retirement.

In most cases the labour laws are no different for UAE national and foreign nationals. Enforcement of these laws is under the control of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affair. Any issues with contracts or other disputes are dealt with in the Federal and Local Courts.


  • 1

    Exemptions from Labour Law

    Even though almost all staff and workers fall under the labour laws, there are soe exemptions. These category of workers include:

    a) Employees of federal government departments, public bodies, municipalities, federal and local public institutions.

    b) Armed forces personnel, police members and security staff.

    c) Domestic and house hold servants and workers.

    d) Workers in the Agricultural sector.

  • 2

    Pre-Requisite for employment in Dubai

    Before any company in dubai can hire an expatriate they must make an application to the Labour Ministry. Most importantly a formal written labour contract between the employer and the employee should also be submitted to the ministry. Once the Labour Ministry approves the employee can enters the UAE with permission to stay for three years. This permit can be renewed for the exact same period.

  • 3

    Employment contracts

    In the UAE there are essentially two types of employment contracts.The first type is a Limited Employment Contracts are which has a specified time to expire. This type of deal will include specific start and finish date and will not exceed four years. The contract expires automatically after its completion but can be renewed if the employer and employee agree.

    The second type of contract is the unlimited contract. This type of document contains a true commencement date but does not state a date for the end of contract. If both parties wish they can finish off the contract with a 30 day notice. The employee has some protection here and can get compensation if the employer fires them unjustifiably.

    Other than the above mentioned details almost all employment contracts will contain the following:

    a) Date of employment contract

    b) Start date

    c) Type of contract

    d) Terms and conditions

    e) Designation of employee

    f) Benefits and compensation

  • 4

    Probationary period

    The law in the UAE states that six months is the maximum amount of probation any new employee can be given. During this period the company can cancel the employment contract at any time. The company will not have to pay for damages or gratuity if the termination takes place in this time frame. If the employee chooses to close out the contract with in the probationary period they get complete pay and benefits including the cost of being sent back to their home country. Once the probationary period is complete, the employee automatically becomes a full time employee.

  • 5


    Dubai labor law states that wages are paid to a worker in return for services and can be made out in cash or other forms of payment. The employer can choose to pay annually, weekly, monthly, daily, hourly and piece-rate. This agreement must always be under an employment contract.

    According to UAE labour laws, an employee’s wages are inclusive of living allowances and bonuses. However, of all these should be mentioned in the labour contract or company policy.

    When someone speaks of a Basic Wage in Dubai they are referring to the amount agreed upon in the contract and does not include any extra allowance. Furthermore, there is no minimum wage in the UAE and the salary of an employee can be paid in any currency that is agreed upon in the contract.

  • 6

    Part time workers

    This is a relatively new addition to the Labor laws of the UAE and currently college and university students can obtain part time work permits. These are given under the sponsorship of their educational institution and are only given permission under certain circumstances. A part-time work permit is also issued by the Labour Ministry to the wives of expatriates workers that are valid residents. This permit is usually only valid for one year.

  • 7

    Short-term and temporary labour permit

    Another new addition to Dubai’s labour laws is the ability for Expatriate workers over 18 to gain short-term work permits. These permits are only valid for 60 days at a time and can be renewed five times. UAE and GCC nationals cannot apply for this category of work permit.

  • 8

    Unger age workers and women employees

    UAE law prohibits the employment of any individual that is under the age of 15. The only exception is if the juveniles that are aged from 15 to18 are issued an teenage work permit from the Labour Ministry. There are of course restrictions on the working hours and times to protect the youth. Employers should also be aware that they must get the following documents before commencing work with a juvenile:

    a) Birth certificate

    b) physical fitness certificate

    c) Letter of consent from guardian

    Women have specific rules to their employment and an employer cannot have female workers working on premises from 10:00pm to 7:00am. However, this rule has exceptions that the Ministry of Labour can clarify.

  • 9

    Working Hours

    Te general rules and regulation state that employees can work eight hours a day and a total of 48 hours per week. The labour laws also mention different overtime and compensation schemes and employers should look at the specific category for their business to get a better idea of what the rules are.

  • 10

    Annual, sick and maternity leave

    In Dubai, an employee that has worked for at least one year and is not on probation should get at least 30 days of paid leave annually. When it comes to sick leaves, a staff member is expected to report for a leave within two days. For working women they can get 45 days of paid leave as maternity leaves but can extend it to a total of 100 days with an unpaid option.

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