We asked Mahima, an Indian lawyer working with Middle East Alliance Legal Consultancy in Abhu Dhavi, UAE to write an article on how Indian workers can counter violation of their rights while working in UAE. She wrote this amazing piece that every Indian working in UAE must read. If you know anyone working in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah or any other place in UAE, please forward this article to them for information purposes, so that they will never be victim of bad employers and will be able to help those in need. Over to Mahima.mahima-lawyer-abu-dhabi-indian-practice


In the wake of the recent news highlighting exploitation of migrant workers in UAE, this article tries to outline 5 essential legal rights that every migrant worker from India should be aware of when pursuing employment within UAE. A large number of Indian workers migrate to UAE to seek employment in pursuit of attractive salaries, better standards of living and other lucrative considerations. There however seems to be a huge disconnect in understanding what are the legal rights such workers are entitled to and what they should be made aware of to protect their rights and interests in this jurisdiction.


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1# Use the E-Migrate system

A large number of workers shift to UAE based on understandings by agencies and individuals who persuade them to seek jobs here in consideration of a better lifestyle and better standards of living. If a worker decides to migrate to UAE, they should mandatorily undertake the e-migrate system whereby it is required that foreign employers who seek to recruit Indian workers have themselves registered in the e-migrate system.

These foreign employers are vetted by the Indian embassy and are required to declare the terms and conditions of employment of each category of job at the time of applying for the demand registration.[1] This implies that the Indian government knows such Foreign Employer and the Indian Government is able to maintain data about the workers migrating to UAE.

If issues relating to labor exploitation or misconduct on part of the Foreign Employer is reported, the Indian embassy in UAE is able to easily identify such issue in consultation with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs with respect to that foreign agency or employer and can ensure that the system is updated of such misconduct to allow every worker to understand which foreign employer or agency is worth pursuing.

In addition, this would also prevent illegal immigration of workers i.e. who’s visas aren’t sponsored by the company hiring them while also adopting a route that prevents the collaborative efforts of the Government of UAE and India to help such workers secure labor rights and entitlements.

2# Learn about the right to abandon your work under Federal Law No. 8 for 1980 on Regulation of Labour Relations (“UAE Labour Law”)

Under the UAE Labour Law, a worker may abandon his work without notice if the employer fails to honor its obligations towards the worker as provided in the contract or if he/she is assaulted by the employer or the employer’s legal representative.

If such an instance occurs, an application should be made to the Labour office in the designated emirate by a written complaint with a summary of the facts and amounts due along with a copy of the Labour contract. It is essential that every worker ensure he maintains a copy of his/her Labour contract so that the competent court can assess the matter and ensure the worker receives compensation along with his right to gratuity which he/she is entitled to.

In addition, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs should be specifically informed of any abuse of domestic workers since they assist in mediation between domestic workers and other parties and are in constant touch with the Indian Embassy as well.

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3# Lodging a complaint through the toll-free helpline number (800 665)

If a worker wishes to lodge a complaint regarding any labour related issues which includes contracts, work conditions, work permits, labour cards etc., he/she should call the abovementioned toll-free helpline number which shall allow him/her to directly lodge a complaint without having to visit the Ministry of Labour or its Labour Offices. Once such a complaint is lodged, the Ministry of Labour shall send its officials to visit the worksites or labour camps to investigate the matter and follow up on the issue. This would particularly be helpful for those workers who fear their employer or are worried about deportation. In addition, it would also ensure that workers who are victims of violence or abuse are referred to social support centers to support the emergency needs of such workers.

4# Learn about the Medical Insurance Scheme

To tend to medical aid of workers, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi through its Federal Body, the Health Authority of Abu Dhabi, has made it mandatory on an employer or sponsor to procure health insurance coverage and possess such health insurance at all times for their employees and their families (1 spouse and 3 children under 18) and cover all registration costs and fees for the procurement of such scheme.

The employee is not liable to pay any costs for ensuring they receive the health insurance scheme. This mandatory requirement has now also been enforced within the Emirate of Dubai that is implementing it on a rolling basis and shall hold all employers fully liable to procure the health insurance scheme for their employees. This is again important because in case of any medical issue or abuse, the worker may use this health insurance scheme to receive medical aid within its applicable coverage.

Every worker should fully understand the comprehensiveness of this scheme and make sure its employer has procured such a scheme on their behalf, failure of which can hold the employer strictly liable.


5# Learn about the New Labor Law Rules

This year, the UAE Ministry of Labor issued a new set of rules, which shall become effective from January 1, 2016. These new rules have been looked at very positively since they try to tackle the problem of “double contracts” whereby employers would provide preliminary offer letters to an employee and upon their arrival in UAE would change the terms of such offer and formulate a new contract altogether.

For this reason, one of the things being enforced under the new rules is, the use of a Standard Employment Contract whereby no foreign worker shall be brought to UAE for employment unless the employment offer corresponds with the Standard Employment Contract that should be presented to and signed by the worker.

This Standard Employment Contract will have to be retrieved from the Ministry of Labor and upon the signature of the worker shall be registered with the Ministry of Labor. No substitutions or alterations can be made to such a contract once approved by the worker and the Ministry of Labor.

This article has been posted by

Mahima from Associate at Middle East Alliance Legal Consultancy, Abu Dhabi, UAE.


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[1] http://www.indembassyuae.org/recruitment-of-indian-workers/


  1. Very Informative post on the legal rights of migrant workers in UAE. I have applied for Dubai Visa with dubaivisas.in & will be leaving soon for my work in Dubai. This post helped in clearing all my doubts regarding my sustenance in Dubai. Good Job! Keep it up.

  2. This is a great article, I have learned so much!

    Dubai is a place for everyone who wants progress in life. Like any other places, there are laws to abide and if you happen to break it or suspected to do so, there are so many law firms in Dubai that understands expats and extends help for a lower cost and even free.


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