UAE: New labour law big step towards modernising workplace, legal experts say

New amendments, along with visa schemes, will play a role in attracting global talent to private sector and create new opportunities, expert says



File photo
File photo

By Sherouk Zakaria

Published: Tue 16 Nov 2021, 8:14 PM

The new labour law is a major step in modernising the UAE’s workplace to cope with the ever-changing labour market and safeguard employee rights, legal experts said.

Diana Hamade, Founder and Managing Partner at Attorneys at Law, said the Federal Decree Law no. 33 of 2021 regulating labour relations “presents unprecedented changes to the employment status in the UAE and a major leap towards following the best international practices.”

Hamade noted that the new law is a serious overhaul of the previous provisions issued in the Labour Law no. 8 of 1980. “We have, for years, been seeing amendments through ministerial orders, which did amend the provisions therein slightly. The new law is the only one to amend the Labour Law no. 8 of 1980.”

Earlier on Monday, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation announced the new law granting leaves, flexible work models, 3-year annual contracts and empowerment against bullying and harassment to private sector employees.

Hamade added that the introduction of new flexible, temporary and part-time work models will open up job opportunities for mothers and people of determination and allow employees to have wider options for tasks and working hours.

The provision in article no. 4 on workplace anti-discrimination that states an equal pay for women doing the same job as men is revolutionary in avoiding discrimination against women, she stressed.

She noted that a main highlight is introducing a minimum wage, as per article 27, which will be proposed by the minister of Human Resources and Emiratization in coordination with relevant entities.

Imran Khan, legal consultant at Bin Eid Advocates and Legal Consultants, said the new decree law will benefit both employers and employees and grant a healthy work relationship. “The 14-day notice before terminating an employee during probation will stop the sudden termination, providing employees an opportunity to plan their next step.”

He praised the extended maternity leave for women, which can reach up to 60 days (including 15 half-paid leave), as helpful for female employees to get more time to spend with their newborns. Khan noted that a significant change is the removal of the unlimited employment contract, where the termination of the contract required a default or violation of the employment contract.

The new work models, he said, are significant in enabling employees to be engaged in different activities, but it will require some specific mechanisms to ensure effective implementation.

Mohammed Al Dahbashi, Managing Partner at ADG Legal, said the new amendments, along with the visa schemes that the UAE has been introducing, will play a role in attracting global talent to the private sector and create new opportunities.

However, clear provisions need to be introduced to govern remote work from outside the UAE. “It is a new development to be considered and we shall see how it would be tested in courts,” he noted.


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