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Navigating Employment Laws in the UAE: Insights for Employers and Employees on Rights and Responsibilities

Home / Employment Law / Navigating Employment Laws in the UAE: Insights for Employers and Employees on Rights and Responsibilities
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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has firmly established itself as a global business hub, attracting a diverse workforce of expatriates and locals alike. Coupled with rapid economic growth and an ambitious vision for the future, navigating the complexities of employment laws in the UAE is crucial for both employers and employees. At Al Kabban & Associates, we pride ourselves on providing expert guidance and advice in matters related to UAE employment laws, ensuring that your rights and responsibilities are clearly understood and protected.

Employment laws in the UAE are governed by Federal Law No. 8 of 1980, also known as the UAE Labour Law, which outlines the rights and obligations of employers and employees working in the UAE’s private sector. This legal framework covers aspects such as work contracts, working hours, annual leave, termination, and end-of-service benefits. Additionally, the UAE Labour Law provides specific provisions for the protection of female employees, including maternity leave, equal pay, and safety in the workplace. Furthermore, the UAE has implemented regulations to safeguard expatriate workers, including the Wage Protection System (WPS) to ensure timely payment of salaries and stringent visa sponsorship rules.

In this blog post, we will examine the intricacies of UAE employment laws, exploring key areas such as employment contracts, working hours and overtime, annual leave, maternity leave, and equal pay. We will also shed light on the rights and responsibilities of both employers and employees in the UAE and discuss the significance of legal counsel in navigating disputes and protecting your interests. Stay tuned for insights into this vital aspect of life and business in the UAE as we guide you through the landscape of employment laws and help you make informed decisions when it comes to your rights and responsibilities.

1. Employment Contracts and Probationary Periods

Understanding the terms of employment contracts and the implications of probationary periods is vital for both employers and employees, as these set the foundation for the employment relationship.

a. Types of Contracts: UAE employment contracts can only be limited-term contracts bar a few exceptions including those employed within the DIFC and ADGM jurisdictions. Limited-term contracts have a fixed end date without any restrictions to the number of years permitted.

b. Probationary Periods: The maximum probationary period in the UAE is six months from the start date of employment. During this period, both parties can terminate the employment relationship without notice or end-of-service benefits.

c. Termination and Notice Periods: Termination provisions vary depending on the type of contract and can include notice periods, payments, and end-of-service benefits as stipulated in Federal Law No.33 of 2021 Regarding the Regulation of Employment Relationship and its amendments, also known as the UAE Labour Law.

2. Working Hours, Overtime, and Annual Leave

The UAE Labour Law sets provisions for standard working hours, overtime, breaks, and annual leave to protect the rights of employees and ensure safe and fair working conditions.

a. Standard Working Hours: Employees’ standard working hours in the UAE should not exceed eight hours per day or forty-eight hours per week. During the holy month of Ramadan, working hours are reduced by two hours per day for all employees.

b. Overtime: Employees required to work beyond standard working hours are entitled to overtime pay. Overtime pay rates depend on whether overtime is carried out during daytime or nighttime, with higher rates applicable for nighttime work and during weekends or public holidays.

c. Annual Leave and Public Holidays: Employees are entitled to a minimum of two days of paid leave per month if they have completed six months of service but less than one year. Upon completion of one year of service, employees are entitled to a minimum of 30 calendar days of paid annual leave. Additionally, employees are entitled to paid public holidays as stipulated by the UAE Labour Law.

3. Maternity Leave, Equal Pay, and Female Employee Protection

The UAE Labour Law contains specific provisions for the protection of female employees, including maternity leave, equal pay, and workplace safety.

a. Maternity Leave: Female employees in the UAE are entitled to a minimum of 60 calendar days paid maternity leave, 45 days of which are fully paid and 15 days half paid, provided they have completed a minimum of one year of service. If the employee has not completed a year, she is entitled to the same duration of leave, but unpaid or with reduced pay.

b. Equal Pay: The UAE Labour Law mandates that female employees must receive equal pay to their male counterparts for performing the same work.

c. Workplace Safety: Employers in the UAE are required to provide a safe and healthy working environment for all employees, including female employees. Employers must also ensure that female employees are not assigned hazardous or physically strenuous work, or work that may negatively affect their morality or family responsibilities.

4. Safeguarding Expatriate Workers and the Wage Protection System (WPS)

With a significant proportion of the private sector workforce in the UAE consisting of expatriate workers, measures have been put in place to ensure their protection and safeguard their rights.

a. Wage Protection System (WPS): The WPS is a government initiative aimed at ensuring timely and full payment of wages to employees in the private sector. Employers must transfer their employees’ salaries through the WPS, which records and monitors salary transactions.

b. Visa Sponsorship and Employment Bans: The employer is responsible for sponsoring the employee’s work visa and residence permit. In certain cases, if an employee breaches their employment contract, they may be subject to an employment ban, preventing them from working in the UAE for a specific period.


Understanding and complying with UAE employment laws is essential for both employers and employees to foster a fair, secure, and productive working environment. By staying abreast of legal obligations, seeking expert legal advice, and respecting the rights and responsibilities of both parties, employers and employees can work harmoniously to achieve common goals and contribute to the UAE’s economic success story. The team at Al Kabban & Associates is committed to supporting your employment law journey in the UAE, providing expert insights and guidance every step of the way.

Are you in need of an employment lawyer in Dubai? Look no further than Al Kabban & Associates! Our experienced legal experts have a proven track record of success in providing exceptional legal representation and advice to both employers and employees. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and see how we can help you navigate the complex landscape of employment law in Dubai.


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