Employees in the UAE (private sector) – Which rights are they entitled to?
Federal Law No. 8, for 1980, on Regulation of Labour Relations - the UAE Labour Law - has given employees’ rights in relation to their employment including how they may be disciplined, dismissed, how their grievances are handled, wages, absence from work and sickness, holidays, work breaks and working hours, and maternity leave.
In this article, we provide a brief review on the main rights of the employees working in the UAE, in the private sector.
(Employment contracts for public sector are governed by Cabinet Decision No. 13 of 2012 regarding Executive Rules for Decree under Law No. 11 of 2008).
By law, all workers are entitled to several rights that have been carefully entrusted to ensure that all individuals are treated fairly by their employers. These rights are called the employees’ statutory rights.
While statutory rights form the basis for fair treatment in the workplace, the specific employee rights may vary slightly depending on the type of job one is hired to do and the arrangement with the employer along with a few other variables. The employees’ exact rights at work will ultimately be derived from a combination of their statutory rights and their employment contracts.
Below are some of the employees’ rights contained within the UAE Labour Law:
In the case of disputes, the MoHRE relies solely on the Arabic version of the employment contract. Therefore, the employees should try to ensure that both versions are an exact match.
Employees are also entitled for paid leave on the following public holidays:
Contractual Employee Rights
There might be some rights that are set out in the terms and conditions of the employment terms or contract, other than those required by law. These are known as contractual employee rights.
The terms of the contract may vary the terms of the employment and may grant the employee additional rights beyond the minimums stablished by the UAE Labour Law. For example, an employer may offer a longer maternity leave at full pay. However, this is not obligatory by law and is at the discretion of the employer.
An important point to note regarding contractual rights is that an employment contract can offer the employee additional rights but they cannot offer fewer rights than those offered by the law. In other words, contracts of employment cannot forcefully restrict the legal rights.
Once the terms of the employment contract have been agreed upon, employers must abide by them. If they do not, they could be held liable for breach of contract.
Disabled Employee Rights
Under the Ministerial Decree No. 43 of 2018, published on 13 August 2018, employers cannot discriminate against employees at any stage if they are suffering from any type of physical or mental disability. If the employee is suitably qualified for the job and an employer is aware of his/her disability, they have a duty to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace to ensure access to all the facilities as employees who are not disabled so these employees are not serious disadvantaged when doing their job.
Reasonable adjustments may include removing physical barriers that limit employees’ movements, installing an audio-visual alarm for a deaf employee or a ramp for a wheelchair user, providing a special keyboard if they arthritis or offering additional training opportunities if necessary.
The new law establishes that employment cannot be terminated for reasons of the employee's disability.
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