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Understanding Employment Law in the UAE: Rights, Obligations, and Dispute Resolution

Home / Employment Law / Understanding Employment Law in the UAE: Rights, Obligations, and Dispute Resolution
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As the UAE continues to grow and diversify its economy, it is crucial for businesses operating in the country to be aware of and compliant with the local employment laws and regulations. From understanding employee rights and employer obligations to navigating the legal landscape surrounding issues such as labour contracts, payment of wages, and workplace health and safety, businesses must be equipped with the knowledge and guidance necessary to maintain a smooth and compliant workplace environment. Invariably, employment disputes arise, and businesses must confront and address these issues to minimise potential harm to their operations and reputation. Given these complexities, Al Kabban & Associates, a Law Firm and Private Notary in the UAE, is well-positioned to provide businesses and individuals with the legal expertise and practical solutions required for effective management of employment law matters.

In this informative blog article, we will take a closer look at the essential aspects of employment law in the UAE. We will provide an overview of employee rights, employer obligations, and the legal framework governing these areas, as well as exploring the dispute resolution mechanisms available to both employees and employers. Delving into the intricacies of working hours, annual leave, maternity leave, equal treatment, and more, the article will offer businesses and individuals a comprehensive understanding of the obligations and entitlements that arise within the UAE’s unique employment landscape.

Additionally, we will showcase the capabilities and strengths of Al Kabban & Associates in providing tailored legal advice and representation in the realm of employment law. The article will highlight their expertise in handling a wide range of employment law issues, including dispute resolution and litigation, providing valuable support to businesses and individuals navigating this complex legal area.

Employee Rights under UAE Labour Law

1. Working Hours and Overtime

The UAE Labour Law stipulates that the standard working hours for adult employees should not exceed eight hours per day or 48 hours per week. During Ramadan, working hours are reduced to six hours per day. Employees working beyond these limits are entitled to overtime pay, calculated at 25% above the standard hourly wage, or 50% for work performed between 10 PM and 4 AM.

2. Annual Leave and Public Holidays

Employees in the UAE are entitled to a minimum of two days of paid leave per month for those who have completed six months of service, extending to 30 days of annual leave after one year of employment. Additionally, UAE Labour Law provides for a range of paid public holidays throughout the year.

3. Maternity and Paternity Leave

Female employees are entitled to 60 days of paid maternity leave out of which 45 days are fully paid and 15 days are half paid. In addition to the basic maternity leave, she may take an additional 45 days without pay if she has an illness as a result of the pregnancy or childbirth. The maternity leave can be applied for up to 30 days before the expected delivery date. Paternal leave, or Parental leave as termed in the new UAE Labour law, entitles the father and mother of a newborn child to 5 fully paid working days from the day of birth until 6 months of age. 

4. Equal Treatment and Anti-Discrimination

The UAE Labour Law protects all employees regardless of nationality, religion, or social status, ensuring equal treatment concerning working conditions, remuneration, and disciplinary measures. Federal Decree Law No. 2 of 2015 prohibits discrimination on grounds of race, colour, gender, religion, or social origin.

Employer Obligations under UAE Labour Law

1. Employment Contracts and Record Keeping

Employers must provide employees with a written employment contract outlining key terms and conditions, such as job description, remuneration, and working hours. These contracts must be registered with the UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE). Employers must also maintain accurate payroll and timekeeping records in compliance with UAE regulations.

2. Wages and Benefits Compliance

UAE employers must adhere to the Wage Protection System (WPS), ensuring timely and regular payment of employees’ wages in line with their employment contracts. Employers must also provide employees with end-of-service benefits, including gratuity payments, and may be required to provide additional benefits such as health insurance or housing allowances, depending on the employment contract and local regulations.

3. Workplace Health and Safety

Employers in the UAE must meet specific health and safety requirements to ensure a safe working environment. This includes providing proper training, protective equipment, and safe working conditions for employees. Employers must report workplace accidents and take appropriate corrective action to prevent future incidents.

4. Termination of Employment

Employment contracts may be terminated by either party, provided that notice and severance are addressed as per the UAE Labour Law and the employment contract. Employers must provide proper grounds for termination if it is not due to expiration of a fixed-term contract and must adhere to the correct procedures for calculating and paying end-of-service benefits.

Navigating the Legal Framework for Employment Law in the UAE

1. Federal Labour Law

The primary source of employment law in the UAE is Federal Law No. 33 of 2021, known as the UAE Labour Law, which governs issues such as working hours, annual leave, termination of employment, and workplace health and safety.

2. Sector-specific Regulations

Some industries and sectors in the UAE have specific regulations and governing bodies addressing employment law matters, such as the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Employment Law for those working within the DIFC free zone.

3. International Labour Standards

The UAE is a member of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and has ratified several ILO conventions, which play a role in shaping the UAE Labour Law and employment practices in the country.

Resolving Employment Disputes and Litigation in the UAE

1. Negotiation and Mediation

Employment disputes may often be addressed and resolved through negotiation or mediation, providing a cost-effective and swift resolution without resorting to litigation.

2. UAE Labour Authorities

The MOHRE or relevant free zone authority may be involved in resolving employment disputes. These labour authorities may investigate complaints, mediate between parties, and impose penalties on employers if violations are found.

3. Litigation in the UAE Courts

If an employment dispute cannot be resolved through alternative means or with the assistance of labour authorities, litigation may be initiated in the UAE courts. Al Kabban & Associates can provide expert legal representation and guidance throughout the litigation process, protecting the rights and interests of both employees and employers.


Understanding and navigating the complexities of employment law in the UAE is essential for businesses and individuals operating in the country. By being aware of the rights and obligations of employees and employers, as well as the legal framework governing these aspects, parties can foster a compliant and harmonious workplace environment. In the event of an employment dispute, a range of mechanisms are available for resolution, including negotiation, mediation, and litigation.

Al Kabban & Associates offers unparalleled legal expertise and support for those facing employment law matters in the UAE. Our extensive experience in handling employment disputes and representing clients in litigation makes us the go-to law firm for those seeking expert guidance in this crucial area. With Al Kabban & Associates by your side, navigating the landscape of UAE employment law becomes a manageable undertaking, providing businesses and individuals with the confidence and peace of mind they need to succeed. Contact our law firm in the UAE for more information!


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