UAE: Can employers deduct salaries for domestic workers? What the law says about pay suspension

In case of dispute between employer and worker that cannot be resolved amicably, the case must be referred to Mohre

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Published: Sun 7 Jul 2024, 3:05 PM

Last updated: Sat 13 Jul 2024, 10:09 PM

In the UAE, domestic workers' rights are safeguarded by the executive regulations of 2022*, which ensure that employers and employees fully understand the terms of the contract, the nature of work, the period of daily and weekly rest, and the remuneration.

Covering 19 occupations, the law also prohibits discrimination based on race, colour, gender, religion, and political opinion, providing a comprehensive framework for the protection and fair treatment of domestic helpers.

This article explains the regulations and guidelines governing salary deductions for domestic workers in the UAE, throwing light on what is permissible under the law and what protections are in place for workers.

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Pay deductions

According to the law, if a worker commits a serious mistake or violates instructions, causing damage to the employer's tools, machines, products, or materials owned by the latter, or what is in the custody of the worker or at their disposal, the employer can deduct money from the worker's pay to cover the damage.

This deduction can be up to a quarter of the cost needed to fix the damage. The amount is decided either by the worker agreeing or by the Ministry if the worker does not agree. If neither the worker nor the employer agrees with the Ministry's decision, the issue will go to court.

If a worker's wages are being deducted to pay off debts according to a court order, the deduction cannot be more than a quarter of their wage.

Salary suspension

A worker in pretrial (in or relating to the period before a judicial trial) detention will not receive their wages during the time they are detained.

If the employer files a criminal case against a worker and the investigation does not lead to a trial or if the worker is found not guilty, the worker will be paid their wages for the time they were detained. However, if the worker is convicted, they will not receive their wages for that period.

If someone other than the employer files a criminal case against a worker and the worker is convicted, the worker will not be paid the wages suspended during detention. However, if the investigation does not lead to a trial or if the worker is acquitted, the person who reported the worker must pay the suspended wages, unless the worker agrees to waive this payment.

In case of dispute

If there is a dispute between the employer and the domestic worker that cannot be resolved amicably, the case must be referred to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (Mohre). If Ministry cannot resolve the issue within two weeks, it will be sent to court along with Mohre's recommendations.

It must be noted that, cases filed by domestic workers are exempt from court fees at all stages of litigation and must be heard in a speedy and prompt manner.

The law protects

As per the law, domestic workers are entitled to receive their wages, as specified in the standard contract, within 10 days from the due date. They are also permitted one paid rest day per week, 12 hours of daily rest, including 8 consecutive hours of rest.

Additionally, all domestic workers are entitled to 30 days of paid annual leave, a round-trip ticket home every two years, and up to 30 days of sick leave per year. Employers are prohibited from keeping workers' passports, ensuring that workers are in possession of their personal identification documents such as passports and IDs.

Employer obligations

Employers in the UAE are obligated to fulfil several responsibilities towards domestic workers to ensure their well-being and fair treatment.

Apart from adhering to the terms stipulated in the employment contract, employers must provide necessary facilities for the workers to perform their duties effectively. This includes appropriate accommodation, meals, and clothing.

Additionally, employers are required to ensure timely payment of remuneration, provide access to medical care or health insurance, and maintain a safe and respectful working environment.

In cases of work-related injuries or occupational diseases, employers must also compensate the workers appropriately. These obligations aim to safeguard the rights and welfare of domestic workers under UAE law*.

Who are domestic workers?

In the UAE, 19 occupations fall within the scope of employment for domestic workers:

  1. Housemaid/servant
  2. Sailor
  3. Guard
  4. Shepherd
  5. Jockey
  6. Tamer
  7. Falcon care-taker
  8. Worker
  9. Housekeeper
  10. Cook
  11. Nanny/babysitter
  12. Farm worker/grower
  13. Gardener
  14. Personal trainer/coach
  15. Private tutor
  16. Home nurse
  17. Personal assistant
  18. Private agricultural engineer
  19. Personal/family driver.

When hiring a domestic worker in the UAE, residents are required to complete the process through approved recruitment agencies and must avoid dealing with unauthorised centres that offer domestic-help services. Find the complete list of approved domestic worker recruitment centres here.

*Federal Decree by Law No. (9) of 2022 Concerning Domestic Workers


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