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  • Understanding employment issues in the UAE

    Like any other federation, the United Arab Emirates’ federal government rules over employment matters, as it does in taxation, immigration policies, etc. As several facts can influence the working relationships within all of the seven emirates, relying on an employment lawyer is essential.

    In this article, you will learn everything about federal regulations, employment issues, and more. Current legislation protects the employment relationships and the employee’s rights but also sets straight rules to avoid unfair situations around it.

    1. What is the applicability of the labour law?

    2. Why should you hire an employment lawyer?

    3. How is the Emiratisation program related to employment matters?

    4. What are the perks of hiring an employment law firm?

    5. Do you know the changes in the new Labour Legislation?

    6. Understanding the difference between labour lawyers and employment lawyers

    7. Would you like to receive information about our legal services in Connect Legal?

    1. What is the applicability of the Labour Law?

    Firstly we need to know that the labour law applies to every employee working in the UAE; it does not matter if they are citizens or non-nationals. The only exceptions are the employees working in the DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) and other free zones. This is because each of these places has its labour legislation, like the DIFC employment law.

    But apart from the last-mentioned situation, the rest of employment relationships are ruled by one single federal law. Officially, the United Arab Emirates issued the Federal Labour Law No. 33 of 2021 and it took place from February 2, 2022. This legislation is repealing the Federal Law No. 8 of 1980. Many things have changed and we will discuss them later.

    Additionally, the federal labour law does not apply to certain social groups. These are domestic servants, workers of the federal government, and members serving in the armed forces or the police. For instance, this law applies very well in construction law matters.

    Since the UAE is promoting Emiratisation, an initiative to encourage the employment of citizens in both public and private sectors; the current labour law adjusts to it aiming that employers prioritize nationals over foreign workers. As we can see, this is part of the government’s effort to improve the productivity of the country by enforcing the local working potential.

    However, there are two free zones that both have their legal systems, which are based on the common law. These free zones are the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and the International Financial Centre (DIFC). Their legislations replace the UAE Labour Law. In situations like this, the arrangements on employment can vary at some levels from the mainland labour Law.

    2. Why should you hire an employment lawyer?

    Although the law is very straightforward, there are circumstances where employers might misuse the application of the rules, purposely or not. Perhaps the most common situation is the termination of an employment relationship. For instance, if the employer wants to fire an employee by justification on certain articles of the law, how can the employee assure that the reasons were fairly justified?

    The same could happen if the employee is complaining and requesting actions by justifying in specific situations stipulated in the law. There is a series of necessary procedures to demonstrate truthful events. This is the field of operation for an employment lawyer in the UAE.

    An employment lawyer is a legal counsel that specializes in labour law. He or she is a professional with high levels of expertise in this matter, and his importance can be the difference between losing and winning a case. Moreover, a person facing issues in this matter might need one depending on how the process goes in court.

    Moreover, if the case hits the courts, both parties need to be represented by a lawyer. Even though the law does not force hiring a lawyer, there are so many laws, codes, and rules that a regular person could not defend himself properly. On the other hand, employment lawyer consultation is one of the most useful tools for any company or business organization because it assures proper compliance in these vital legal matters.

    Because of its importance, it is a resource as vital as a criminal defense lawyer in such cases.

    3. How is the Emiratisation program related to employment matters?

    Before we continue, we need to mention the Emiratisation program. The UAE launched the Emiratisation campaign aiming to make inclusive policies within the national employment sphere.

    Through this initiative, the UAE is encouraging the private sector to hire more Emiratis. It includes a series of incentives, as well as a series of job educational programs to create more national professionals. The motivation behind this program was a large number of new companies in the country, but all of them were hiring only non-nationals.

    But reducing the unemployment of citizens is not an easy task, that is why this program is for both private and public sectors. The current labour law establishes that employers should give UAE nationals the first chance of employment opportunities, before non-national professionals. This prioritization involves also banking and educational institutes.

    To do this, the federal government allied with the National Human Resource Development Authority (TANMIA). The goal is to provide Emiratis professional training to become highly competitive in the market sector.

    However, it is relevant to mention that this program does not apply in certain free zones like the DIFC. Yet, it is widely replicated in other countries including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Bahrain.

    This program has proved to be successful and because of this, other countries of the region, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Bahrain are establishing similar programs aiming to improve their local productivity as well.

    4. What are the perks of hiring an employment law firm?

    When we talk about employment issues, we cannot help remember the significance of counting on a specialized law firm. Starting with the fact that it is not the same as requiring legal services from any regular lawyer than an established panel of experienced professionals.

    For instance, it might be hard to find an employment lawyer in Dubai. Not to mention that it is a risk to trust matters of this level of importance to a single attorney, sometimes it is remarkably better to count on a team. Especially in cases that reach courts, it is necessary to deal with litigation, investigation of proofs, collecting the testimony of witnesses, etc.

    Upcoming, let us review some of the benefits of hiring an employment law firm:

    • More experts to deal with your case: sometimes the workflow can get very challenging and that is when it is better to count on more than one lawyer. Although some procedures are easy to deal with, some others require more experts.
    • Better capacity for problem resolution: according to estimations, employment cases handled by specialized law firms tend to get better results than the cases represented by a single lawyer.
    • The cost-saving factor: there is a connection between the quality of work and fewer expenses. Companies that hire law firms of this kind usually end up saving lots of money for legal representation services.

    Cases involving commercial law matters also require the expertise of employment law firms.

    5. Do you know the changes in the new Labour Legislation?

    Regarding the labour law, several changes in the new legislation will impact directly the working sphere, some will be positive but some others could produce employment issues. However, some of these changes are not necessarily clear at first sight. And this is because the legislators are hoping to introduce more legal updates in the future.

    We have enlisted some of the major changes we are about to see in the UAE regarding employment matters. Let us review them.

    5.1 Enforced protection against discrimination and harassment

    Even though the previous legislation had stipulated a few articles prohibiting discrimination, the current one makes special emphasis that this behavior will not be tolerated.

    The new labour law explicitly forbids discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, or disabilities. However, the law is not clear to specify the compensations for victims of discrimination.

    Finally, the law makes clear prohibitions against harassment. Any kind of harassment: verbal, physical, and especially sexual harassment. Also, it prohibits violence against employees by their employers.

    5.2 Promoting gender pay parity

    It is not news that there is a remarkable gap in the pay of men and women across the world, fortunately, this problem is fading away with the creation of legislation like this. The new UAE labour introduces rules aiming to ensure pay equality between men and women. Starting with prohibiting any act of discrimination against women, ensuring they receive the same remuneration as men for doing the same job.

    As we can see, this is a pivotal shift of paradigm, an effort to stop the visible disparities between genders. It is necessary to remember that equality of payment is one of the most important human rights. The gender gap between women and men is a kind of discrimination.

    5.3 Maternity leaves

    The new law increased the maternity leaves up to 60 days. These days consist of 45 days of full pay and 15 days of half pay. The mother employees can take unpaid leave for 45 days in the case of an illness related to pregnancy. However, this leave will not be included in the end-of-service dividend.

    5.4 Adjustable working models

    It was one of the most awaited changes in employment matters. Now it is a reality, employees can choose between full-time, temporary or part-time jobs. Nonetheless, this is not exactly new, many companies have already implemented these working models but without any legal background.

    The law introduces six new work models:

    • Full-time
    • Remote working
    • Part-time jobs
    • Job-sharing positions
    • Temporary work
    • Flexible work

    Additionally, student training permits are now available and this allows teenagers over 15 years old to work. However, this is only for authorized companies. The duration of a fixed-term contract can last a maximum of 2 years and they are renewable for one or two similar terms.

    Interestingly, employers must pay their employees once or twice a month, depending on the specifics of their employment contracts. Also, it is good to know that there is a government system called the “Wage Protection System”. This platform is designed to observe and ensure proper compliance with all the rules about payment deductions.

    6. Understanding the difference between labour lawyers and employment lawyers

    We need to clarify a very common misconception regarding legal consultation. The terms “employment lawyer” and “labour lawyer” are often confused and this is because of the resemblance of the two kinds of legal practitioners.

    Labour lawyers deal directly with collectives of workers, such as unions. Their task is to try to protect the rights of employees. Since the labour laws are often much smaller and more concentrated than employment laws, they guide the relationships between employers and unions of workers.

    For instance, a labour lawyer in Dubai can assist unions of workers complaining about the lack of applicability of their rights.

    On the other hand, we have employment lawyers. They focus on the relationships between employers and individual employees. Their role is to safeguard the obligations that both parties agreed on in the employment contracts.

    To summarize this subject, we can say that labour lawyers can represent the rights of every worker in the country while employment lawyers deal with the specifics of every employment relationship.

    7. Would you like to receive information about our legal services in Connect Legal?

    We are Connect Legal, a law firm based in Dubai and we are ready to assist you in every legal matter, including employer lawyer services. Our lawyers cover a wide range of legal services and legal consultations. Because you deserve only the best assistance.

    Our attorneys can provide you their extensive knowledge and proven experience in the following legal matters:

    • Family Law
    • Employment issues
    • Banking Law
    • Civil Litigations
    • Corporate and Commercial Law
    • Criminal Law
    • Accident Injuries

    Would you like to contact Connect Legal to obtain more information about legal services in Dubai? If you have any questions, call us on +97143316688. You can email us at [email protected], and you will talk to one of our representatives who will answer your questions.

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