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More labour protection for pregnant employees in UAE

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on January 19, 2020 | Last updated on January 19, 2020 at 09.48 pm
Rebecca Ford, John Lewis, Anish Mehta and Anurag Chaturvedi during ICAI's 'Laws you should know' forum in Dubai.

(Supplied photo)

If employee is dismissed purely because she was pregnant, that doesn't really fall into performance or conduct category anywhere

A new federal decree amending the labour law in the UAE now gives broader protection to female employees who are pregnant.

"New Article 30 of the UAE Labour Law prohibits employers from terminating or serving a notice of termination to pregnant employees. It is a provision that says an employer can't terminate an employee for her pregnancy. The labour law says where if someone has an unlimited labour contract, you can give a notice any time but there has to be a valid reason. It is normally due to performance or conduct reasons," says Rebecca Ford, partner at Clyde & Co.

"If an employer were to dismiss an employee purely because she was pregnant, that doesn't really fall into performance or conduct category anywhere," she added.

"So, in that case, the employee could go to the court and claim arbitrary dismissal compensation if that was the reason," Ford said, adding that the "new law makes it expressly clear that an employer cannot terminate an employee because of her pregnancy and it would amount to an arbitrary dismissal".

Ford was speaking to Khaleej Times in an interview on the sidelines of a conference hosted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) - Dubai Chapter. She also highlighted that, of late, the UAE has tried to stamp out discrimination through different legislations.

DIFC regulations

While sharing the latest changes to regulations at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), she said sick pay has been reduced from 60 paid working days to a full daily wage for 10 working days, 50 per cent of the daily wage for 20 working days and no pay for the remaining 30 work days.

For termination of services, a minimum of seven days' notice for less than three months' service is a must, 30 days' notice for less than five years' service is mandatory and three months' notice for more than five years' service is needed.

With regards to paternity leaves, the new regulations allow one year's continuous service and the leave must be taken within one month of childbirth with a daily wage for five work days.

ADGM regulations

While sharing the latest changes to regulations pm Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), Ford pointed out that working time shall not exceed an average of 48 hours for each seven calendar days, and employees are entitled to overtime for time worked in excess of 832 hours over a four-month period.

Compensation for overtime, meanwhile, can be monetary, time in lieu or a combination of both as decided by the employer.

For sick leaves, ADGM regulations allow 10 business days on full pay, 20 business days on half pay and 30 business days on no pay.

With regards to changes in the termination notice period, the 90-day minimum notice period has been removed and changed to a seven-day notice if employment is less than three months and 30 days if employment is three months and more.

- waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com

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