labour law

This article is written by Naincy Mishra. This article deals with a detailed explanation of the UAE Labour Law, which got presidential assent in February 2022. It discusses the provisions of this law and their importance to the country’s socio-economic development. 

It has been published by Rachit Garg.

Table of Contents


For any thriving society, it is fundamental to ensure fair and just treatment for its workforce. The labour laws of a country safeguard the rights, dignity and equitable treatment of the employees within the country’s economic landscape. They form the backbone of a balanced relationship between employers and employees, thereby fostering an environment of stability, security, and mutual respect. As the cornerstone of social justice, these laws play a crucial role in shaping the economic prosperity as well as the societal well-being of the country. The UAE Labour Law got presidential assent in February 2022. As the country continues to carve its mark on the global stage, the provisions of this law serve as the bedrock, safeguarding the interests of both employers and employees.

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Let us now take a look at the Chapter wise content of the UAE Labour Law.

Chapter 1 of  UAE Labour Law : definitions and general provisions

This Chapter lays out the definitions of the terms used in this law as well as several general provisions, such as language of the records, categories to which the law shall not be applicable, priority charge while giving out payments under the law, exemption of costs while taking an action under the law, provision relating to an amicable settlement between the parties, etc.


Unless the context requires otherwise, Article 1 of the first Chapter of the law lays down the meanings of various terms and expressions for the purposes of the present law.


An ‘Employer’ has been defined as any natural or legal person who is employing one or more than one worker in return for any kind of wage.


A ‘Worker’ means any male or female who is working in the service or under the management or control of an employer, though out of his sight, for a wage of any kind. This term also applies to labourers and employees who are in the service of an employer and are governed as per this law.


A ‘firm’ is any economic, industrial, technical or commercial unit where personnel are employed and which is set up with the objective of producing marketable commodities or providing any kind of service.

Employment contract

An ‘employment contract’ may be defined as any agreement that is concluded between an employer and an employee, for a definite or an indefinite term, in which the employee undertakes to work in service of the employer and under his control and management, and in return, the employer undertakes to pay a certain wage. 


The term ‘work’ has been defined as any human effort that may be intellectual, technical or physical which is exerted in return for a wage, irrespective of whether the work is permanent or temporary.

Temporary work

The expression ‘temporary work’ can be defined as an assignment that is to be carried out within a specific time period. 

Agricultural work

The expression ‘agricultural work’ has been defined as the work which involves ploughing, cultivation, harvesting, or breeding of cattle, poultry, silkworms, bees and the like. 

Continuous service

The expression ‘continuous service’ is defined as an uninterrupted service under the same employer or his legal successor, from the date the service has commenced. 


The term ‘wage’ can be defined as any consideration in the form of cash or in kind which is given to a worker in return for his service rendered under an employment contract, whether on an annual, monthly, weekly, daily, hourly, piecemeal, output or commission basis. 

The definition further elaborated that the term wage shall include the amount of living allowance and any grant given to a worker in the form of a reward for his honesty or efficiency. However, where any grant is given as a reward for honesty, it is provided that such amounts must be stipulated in the employment contract, must be in the firm’s internal regulations, or are so customarily granted that the firm workers consider them part of their wage, and these are not considered donations. 

Basic wage

Basic wage’ has been defined as the wage that is specified in a valid employment contract, and this is exclusive of any allowances. 

Occupational injury

An ‘occupational injury’ can be defined as any work-related disease that is listed in the schedule attached to the law or any other injury sustained by a worker during or by reason of carrying out his duties. In fact, any accident that is sustained by a worker while on his way to or back from work shall also be considered an occupational injury; however, such a journey to and from work must have been made without any break, lingering or diversion from the normal route.

Labour department 

For the purposes of this law, the ‘labour department’ means the branches of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs that act as in charge of labour affairs in the emirates of the Federation. 

General provisions

Chapter I further lays down some general provisions from Articles 2 to 8 regarding the language of the records, categories to which the law shall not be applicable, priority charges while giving out payments under the law, exemption of costs while taking an action under the law, provisions relating to an amicable settlement between the parties, conditions contrary to this law, and the manner of calculation of periods and dates under the law.

Language of the records 

Article 2 of the law provides that the language which shall be used in any records, contracts, files, data, etc. provided for in this law or in any orders or regulations issued for the implementation of this law shall be Arabic. In fact, it shall also be the language in which the employer issues instructions and circulars to its employees. It has been further given that where the employer has used any other foreign language on any such document besides Arabic, the Arabic version of such document shall prevail. 

Non-applicability of the law

Article 3 of the law lays down the categories to which the law will ‘not’ be applicable. 

Thus, the law will not apply to:

  • The employees of the Federal Government, governmental departments of the emirates of the Federation, municipalities, federal and local public authorities and corporations, and employees recruited against federal and local governmental projects. 
  • The members of the armed forces, police and security. 
  • Domestic servants who are employed in private households, and the like. 
  • Other than those farming and grazing workers who work in agricultural establishments engaged in processing their own products and those permanently employed in the operation or repair of mechanical equipment required for agricultural work.

Priority charge for due payments

Article 4 states that any payment that is due to an employee or to his beneficiaries as per this law will constitute the first priority charge on all the moveable and immovable properties of the employer, and the same has to be paid immediately after settlement of any legal expenses, amounts due to the public treasury, and Sharia’s alimony being awarded under the Islamic Law to wife and children. 

Action taken under the Law

As per Article 5, at all stages of litigation and execution, the court fees shall be exempted from being paid for any action that is initiated by any employee or his beneficiaries under this law. Moreover, any such action shall be dealt with in an expeditious manner. However, if there is non-admission or dismissal of a case, then the court may order the plaintiff to pay the expenses, wholly or partly.

Amicable settlement

  1. Without prejudice to provisions regarding collective labour disputes under this law, if the employer, worker or any beneficiary disputes his or her respective rights given under this law, he has to file an application to the competent labour department, which will summon the parties and take necessary action for amicable settlement of such dispute. 
  2. However, if an amicable settlement cannot be reached, then within two weeks, the dispute is referred to the competent court by the Department under a memorandum which shall contain summary of the dispute, arguments of both parties, and the Department’s comments on the dispute. 
  3. Within three days from the date of receipt of the application, the court shall fix a hearing date, and the parties shall be notified accordingly. The court may also summon a labour department representative to explain the content of the submitted memorandum. 

In all cases, any claim for any right given under this law shall be heard if it is brought to court within the lapse of one year from the date of accrual. Moreover, a claim must comply with the procedures stated in this Article for it to be admitted. Thus, Article 6 mandates the parties to approach the labour department, which shall try for an amicable settlement and refer the dispute to the court in case such a settlement doesn’t take place.   

Conditions contrary to this Law

Article 7 states that any condition that is contrary to this law shall be rendered null and void unless it is more advantageous to the worker.

Calculation of the Dates

According to Article 8, all the periods and dates referred to under this law shall be calculated as per the Gregorian calendar. Thus, under this law, unless otherwise specified in the employment contract, a calendar year will be considered 365 days and 30 days will be considered a calendar month.

Chapter 2 of UAE Labour Law : employment terms related to workers, children and women

This chapter is categorised into four sections in order to lay down the provisions relating to employment of workers, children and women. Further, it also includes some provisions that are common to the employment of children and women. 

Section I: employment of workers 

Right to work

Article 9 states that work is an inherent right for UAE nationals. The provisions prohibit the non-nationals from being part of any work within the State except in accordance with the conditions stated under this law or its executive orders. 

Article 10 further provides that in employment, when the national workers are not available, preference shall be given:

  • workers of other Arab nationalities, or, 
  • workers of other nationalities.

As per Article 11, a section shall be established within the labour department for the employment of nationals, and it shall have the following functions:

  • To procure suitable employment opportunities for nationals
  • To assist employers by supplying national workers when they make such a demand
  • To register unemployed nationals or nationals who are seeking better employment in a special register. However, every registration must be made at the applicant’s own request. On the day of application, each registered jobseeker shall be issued a certificate of registration free of charge. Such a certificate shall be assigned a serial number and it shall contain the applicant’s name, age, residence address, occupation, qualifications and any past experiences. 

When an employer recruits any unemployed national, he shall notify, in writing, the labour department within 15 days from the date of recruitment. Such notification has to specify the employee’s name, age, date of employment, specified wage, kind of work assigned to him, and his registration certificate number (Article 12).

Employment to non-nationals

According to Article 13, any non-national may be employed in the UAE only on prior approval of the labour department and after obtaining an employment permit as per the procedures and regulations laid down by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (hereinafter as the MoLSA). A special section shall be established within the MoLSA to deal with the employment of non-nationals and the functions of such a section shall be specified in a ministerial resolution. 

Conditions for work permit

An employment permit to a non-national shall be granted only if the following conditions are fulfilled:-

  1. The worker must possess the professional competence or educational qualifications that the country needs. 
  2. The worker has entered the country lawfully and has satisfied the conditions prescribed in the residence regulations in force. 

Importantly, in order to give its approval to the employment of non-nationals, the labour department must be satisfied that no unemployed nationals registered with the employment section are there who are capable of performing the required work (Article 14).

Cancellation of work permit

As per Article 15, the MoLSA may cancel a work permit granted to a non-national if:

  • the worker continues to be unemployed for more than three consecutive months. 
  • the worker no longer meets one or more conditions based on which the permit was granted. 
  • it is satisfied that there is a qualified national to replace the non-national worker, and in that case, the non-national worker continues to remain in his job until the expiry of his employment contract or of his employment permit, whichever is earlier.  

License to supply non-national workers 

Any natural or legal person can serve as an agent for the recruitment or supply of non-national workers only if he is duly licensed to do so, i.e., he will need a licence for the same by order of the MoLSA. Every license may be issued only to nationals, and in other cases, its issuance is considered necessary.

Further, every licence is valid for a renewable period of one year and is subject to the supervision and control of the Ministry. It is worth noting that if any placement office affiliated with the Ministry or any authority approved by the Ministry is already operating in the area and is acting as an intermediary in labour supply, then in that case no such licence shall be granted to any person. 

No such licensed agent or labour supplier is allowed to demand or accept any commission or material reward from any worker in return for employment, be it before or after his admission to the employment. He shall also not charge the worker for any expenses thereby incurred, except where prescribed or approved by the MoLSA.

Immediately after assuming employment, the persons supplied by any such agent or labour supplier will be considered employees of that employer and will have all the employees’ rights of the entity in which they are employed. These workers will relate directly to their employer, and there will be no involvement on the part of the agent. In fact, the agent’s function and his relationships with the employees will end as and when they are supplied to and employed by the employer.

Section II: employment of children

Article 20 prohibits the employment of children below the age of 15. 

Further, before employing a child, an employer has to obtain and keep the following documents:

  1. A birth certificate, or its official extract, or any age estimation certificate issued by a competent medical officer and duly authenticated by competent health authorities. 
  2. A medical fitness certificate for the required work is issued by a competent medical officer and duly authenticated. 
  3. A written consent from the child’s guardian or trustee.

Things to be taken care of 

  • It is the duty of the employer to keep a special register of children at the workplace, which shall contain each child’s name, age, full name of his guardian/trustee, child’s place of residence, the date of employment of the child, and the job in which he is employed (Article 22).
  • A child shall under no circumstances be made to work at night in an industrial enterprise. The term “at night” means a period of a minimum twelve consecutive hours, including the period from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the morning (Article 23).
  • No child shall be employed in any job which is defined as hazardous or detrimental to health by the MoLSA, and the MoLSA shall make such definitions in a resolution after consulting the concerned authorities (Article 24).
  • The maximum working hours for children shall be six per day, intercepted by breaks for rest, food or prayer, which in aggregate shall amount to not less than a full hour. Such breaks are arranged in a manner that no child works for more than four successive hours. Thus, a child can’t be made to remain at the workplace for more than seven successive hours (Article 25).
  • Children can’t be asked to work overtime, to remain at the workplace after their prescribed working hours, or to work on a rest day (Article 26).

Section III: employment of women

As per Article 27, any employed woman shall not be required to work at night. Here, “at night” means a period not less than eleven successive hours, including the period from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. in the morning.

Circumstances where an employed woman can work at night:

  • Where work is disrupted by a force majeure in the entity.
  • If she is executive manager or a technical staff member,. 
  • Work in health services and other businesses, as the MoLSA specifies, if the female worker is not normally engaged in manual work.

Importantly, no woman can be employed on any job which is hazardous, arduous or physically or morally detrimental or on any work specified by the MoLSA.

Maternity leave

According to Article 30, every female worker is entitled to fully paid maternity leave for a period of 45 days, including both prenatal and postnatal periods. To avail of this right, it is necessary that she has completed at least one continuous year of service with her employer. However, any female worker who has not fulfilled this condition shall also be entitled to maternity leave, but with half pay.

The provision further states that if a female worker has already exhausted her maternity leave, she may be absent from work without pay for a maximum period of 100 consecutive or non-consecutive days if such an absence is due to an illness and she is unable to resume her work. For this, a medical certificate issued by a duly authorised or authenticated health authority shall document such illness, confirming that the illness has resulted from pregnancy or delivery. It is important to note that the leave provided hereinabove shall be exclusive of the other leave periods. 

As per Article 31, every female worker nursing her child during the 18 months following her delivery shall, in addition to any prescribed rest period, be entitled to two additional breaks (neither exceeding half an hour) daily for this purpose. These two additional breaks shall be considered part of the working hours and shall not result in any reduction of wage.

Equal pay for equal work

Article 32 states that a female worker shall get a wage that is equal to that of a male if she performs the same work. 

Section IV: rules common to employment of children and women

According to Article 33, the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs is empowered to exempt any charitable and educational institution from all or some provisions of the preceding two Sections of this Chapter, if the objective of such institutions is to provide vocational training or education for children or women. However, for this exemption to take place, it is necessary for the internal regulations of such institutions to specify the nature of activities that are undertaken in these institutions by the children and women, their employment terms and their working hours, which shall be congruent with the actual endurance of the children and women.

As per Article 34, persons who shall be held punitively responsible for observance of the provisions of Sections II and III of this Chapter are: 

  • Employers or their representatives.
  • Guardian or trustee of a child, husband or guardian of a woman, or trustee of a minor woman who has consented to the employment of such child or woman contrary to the provisions of this Law. 

Chapter 3 of UAE Labour Law : employment contracts, records and wages

This chapter is again categorised into four sections. It talks about the employment contracts between the employer and employee, their necessary ingredients, definite and indefinite term contracts, apprenticeship contracts for vocational training, documents to be maintained by the employer, wages of the workers, deduction of wages, minimum wages, etc. 

Section I: individual employment contracts

Article 35 states that every employment contract shall be written in duplicate, and its copy should be delivered to the worker and the employer. However, if there is no written contract, then adequate proof of its terms may be established by admissible means of evidence. The necessary contents of every employment contract are the date on which the work begins, the date of its conclusion, the type and place of work, the duration of the contract (if definite), and the amount of the wage. 


Article 37 provides that a worker may be employed on probation for a maximum period of six months. During this period, the employer may terminate his services without notice or severance pay. Importantly, no worker shall be placed on probation for more than once with the same employer, and where a worker successfully completes the probation period and then continues in employment, the said period shall be considered part of his period of service.

Duration of a contract

Article 38 states that an employment contract may be for a definite or an indefinite term. Where it is a definite term contract, it should be for a maximum of four years. However, the term may be renewed for an equal or shorter term by mutual agreement. When the contract is renewed, the renewal period is considered an extension of the original term and is added to it while the total period of service of the worker is calculated.

Where, after expiry of the initial term of the contract or completion of the agreed work, the parties continue to follow the contract without any explicit agreement, the original contract is considered to have been extended on the same conditions, except the term of the contract. 

When any principal operation or any part thereof is subcontracted by the employer to a third party, then such third party shall be solely liable for all the entitlements of employees engaged in such subcontracted work in accordance with this law. 

Indefinite term contract

According to Article 39, an employment contract shall be considered as an indefinite term contract from its inception only if it: 

  1. Is unwritten; 
  2. Is concluded for an unspecified period;
  3. was originally written and concluded for a definite term but the parties continued performing it after its expiry without any written agreement between them; or 
  4. was originally concluded as having no specific duration or that is recurrent by nature, but the contract continued after completion of the specified work in it.

Section II: apprenticeship and vocational training contracts

As per Article 42, an apprenticeship contract can be defined as a contract by which the owner of a firm undertakes to provide full vocational training to another person who is above 12 years of age, and such other person, in turn, undertakes to work for the employer during the training period as per the mutually agreed terms of service and duration. It is worth noting that the vocational training under this provision shall be given as per the professional standards in that regard.

Things to take care of 

It is very important to take care of a few things with regard to an apprenticeship contract:-

  • It must be in writing; otherwise, it shall be rendered null and void (Article 42). 
  • The employer or training provider must be sufficiently qualified and experienced in the relevant vocation or trade. Moreover, the firm must satisfy the technical requirements and facilities necessary for providing such training (Article 42).
  • Every such contract shall contain details about the contracting parties or their representatives, the procedures, duration, phases, and subject of the training (Article 45).
  • It shall also specify the wage to be paid during each phase. Importantly, the minimum wage payable in the final phase should be as prescribed for identical work, and it shall not be fixed on a piecemeal or output basis in any case.
  • An apprentice who is a major may conclude the training contract himself. On the other hand, an apprentice under the age of 18 years shall be represented by his natural guardian, legal trustee, or personal ad litem (Article 43). 
  • In the contract, the employer may undertake to employ the trainee upon completion of the period of training. 

Duty of the Labour Department 

According to Article 44, every apprenticeship contract is required to be made in at least three copies, one of which is deposited with the competent labour department for the registration and endorsement. The department may ask the parties to delete any clause that is contrary to this law. Where the department does not make any comment/objection within one month, the contract is deemed to have been endorsed with effect from the date it was deposited. Thereafter, an endorsed copy shall be kept by each party. 

Training and certificate 

It is the duty of the employer to give a trainee sufficient time to acquire theoretical knowledge and train him throughout on the principles of the occupation and the required skills. The employer has to issue a certificate to the trainee on completion of each phase of training and also a final certificate on completion of the total training period (Article 46). 

Before starting training for an apprentice below 18 years of age, he shall have to undergo a medical test in order to determine his ability to carry out the work involved in the profession for which the training is sought. If there are specific physical and health requirements for such a profession, then the medical report shall specify whether the training candidate meets such physical and psychological requirements (Article 49).

Powers of the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs 

Articles 50 to 52 talk about the power of the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs regarding matters relating to the apprenticeship and the training provided under this law. The Minister has the power to issue resolutions to regulate training after consulting the public institutions. It can be related to the period of the training, theoretical and practical programmes, testing conditions, certificates, establishment of vocational training centres, and acceptance of a specified number or percentage of national trainees or students of industrial and polytechnic institutes and centres by the entities.

Section III: records and files

Article 53 states that every employer having five or more workers shall keep a special file for each worker, which shall contain his name, job, age, nationality, residential place, marital status, employment date, wage and any adjustments relating to it, penalties that have been imposed on him, occupational injuries and diseases that he sustains and if he is terminated from the service, the date of and reasons for such termination. It is also the duty of the employer to create a leave card for each worker, which shall be kept in the employee’s file. The leave card is required to be divided into three parts- for annual leaves, sick leave and other leaves. Thus, the employer, or his representative, will be required to record all leaves taken or requested by the worker on this leave card.

Further, Article 54 lays down the duty of the employer having 15 or more workers. As per this provision, he is required to maintain the following records and documents:-

  1. A wage register containing the workers’ names by the employment date, amount of each worker’s daily/ weekly/ monthly pay, fringe benefits, piecemeal or commission pay, days of work and the date of termination. 
  2. An occupational injuries register shall contain all work-related injuries and occupational diseases sustained by the workers and the entry shall be made immediately upon knowledge of the employee.
  3. Basic work rules specify the timings of daily work, weekly rest, official holidays and necessary measures and precautions to be taken to prevent work-related injuries and fire hazards. Moreover, these rules should be conspicuously displayed at the workplace. These rules or any amendment made to them shall become effective only after they have been endorsed by the labour department within 30 days of its submission. 
  4. Disciplinary rules, also containing the disciplinary actions imposable upon defaulting workers, and conditions and circumstances of such imposition. These rules must be conspicuously displayed at the workplace, and shall become effective only after being endorsed by the labour department within 30 days of their submission. 

Section IV: wages

According to Article 55, the wages are paid in legal tender on a working day, at the place of work, and in the official national currency. It is the duty of the employer to make sure that the workers who are employed on a yearly or monthly wage basis are paid at least once a month and at least once every two weeks to all other workers. Moreover, in the case of workers who are employed on a piecemeal basis, the daily wage shall be calculated as an equivalent to the average wage received for actual days of work during the six months preceding the termination of their service. It is also worth noting that evidence of payment of any wage should be in the form of documentary proof, admission, or oath and any agreement to the contrary shall be rendered null and void. Moreover, any monthly-paid worker can’t be transferred to the daily, weekly, hourly or piecemeal paid category without his written consent. 

Deduction of wage

Article 60 states that the employer can’t deduct any amount of money from a worker’s wage in respect of private claims. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule:-

  1. Repayment of loans or money advances paid to the worker in excess of his entitlements. However, in this case, the amount deducted can’t exceed 10% of the worker’s wage. 
  2. Contributions required by the law towards social security and insurance schemes. 
  3. Contributions to a provident fund or for repayment of loans due for the same. 
  4. Contributions towards any welfare scheme or for any other privileges/ services provided by the employer and approved by the labour department. 
  5. Fines are imposed for any offence committed by the worker. 
  6. Any debt exacted in execution of a court ruling. However, it should not exceed one-fourth of the wage due to the worker. Moreover, where there are several debts or creditors, the maximum deduction allowed is up to half the worker’s wage, and the same is divided pro rata among the creditors after payment of any legal alimony to the extent of one quarter of the worker’s wage. 

Deduction of wage in case of loss or damage

Article 61 states that where either through his own fault or because of violating the instructions of the employer, a worker causes any loss, damage or destruction to any tools, machines, products or materials owned by or in the custody of the employer, the employer has the power to deduct such amount as may be necessary for repair or restoration from the worker’s wage. However, the deducted amount shall not exceed the wage of five days for each month. Nonetheless, if the worker has money or any other source of income, then the employer may request the competent court for permission to deduct a higher amount. 

Minimum Wage

Article 63 of the law talks about minimum wages to be paid to the workers. It states that the minimum wage and the cost-of-living index payable to workers in general or in a particular area or occupation is fixed by a federal decree based on a proposal made by the MoLSA and approved by the Council of Ministers. The minimum wage so decided must be such as to ensure that it is sufficient to meet the basic needs of the worker and guarantee his livelihood. 

Chapter 4 of  UAE Labour Law : terms related to working hours and leaves

This chapter is divided into two sections. The provisions of this Chapter talk about the normal working hours for the workers, the breaks allowed daily for rest, meals etc., overtime and payment for the same, annual and sick leave, etc. 

Section I: working hours

For adult workers, Article 65 of the law fixes the maximum working hours as eight hours per day and 48 per week. However, this may be increased to 9 hours per day in the case of commercial establishments, hotels, cafeterias, security services etc. as may be notified by the Minister. In fact, it may also be reduced in the case of arduous or health-hazardous work. Two during the month of Ramadan shall reduce the normal working hours. The periods spent by the workers travelling between their home and place of work will be excluded from their working hours. 

The employer is duty bound to post up a timetable which must show the weekly day off, hours of work and rest periods that apply to workers of all classes, at the main entrances which the workers use and in a conspicuous position at the workplace. Moreover, a copy of this timetable is also to be sent to the competent labour department. 


As per Article 66, a worker should not work for more than five successive hours without taking breaks for rest, meals and prayer (the breaks in aggregate should not be less than one hour). It is important to note that the breaks will be exclusive of the working hours. Nevertheless, in the case of factories and workshops, the work is organised in the form of successive shifts of day and night. However, often, the work has to continue uninterrupted for technical and economic reasons, and in these cases, the manner of taking breaks for rest, meals and prayer will be as specified by the Minister.


Often, the circumstances of the work may require a worker to work for more than normal working hours; any such period in which the worker worked in excess shall be considered as overtime, and for this, he shall receive the stipulated wage of his normal working hours in addition to a supplement of at least 25% of that wage. Articles 67 to 69 talk about overtime.  

In case the work circumstances require a worker to work overtime between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. in the morning, then the 25% supplement will be substituted by 50% in the above provision. 

The maximum actual overtime must be two hours per day, unless the work in which the worker is engaged in is essential to prevent a substantial loss or a serious accident or to eliminate or alleviate the impact of the accident. 


Article 70 states that Friday is the normal weekly rest day for all workers except the daily-paid workers. However, in case a worker is put on duty on that day due to some reason, he shall be compensated with a substitute rest day or be additionally paid a supplement of at least 50% of his basic wage. Further, Article 71 strictly prohibits any worker from being required to work for more than two successive Fridays, but the daily-paid workers are excluded from this. 

Applicability of this Section

According to Article 72, there are certain categories of persons to which this Section will not apply:-

  • Individuals in senior executive, managerial or supervisory positions, as specified by the Minister, if such positions confer upon the incumbents the powers of an employer over workers. 
  • Crew of marine vessels and seamen serving under special service conditions on account of the nature of their work. However, it doesn’t apply to the port workers who are engaged in stevedoring and related operations. 

Section II: leaves

Article 74 specifies the occasions on which all the workers will be entitled to leave with full pay. They are – 

  • one day each for New Year’s Day (Higra) and New Year’s Day (Gregorian); 
  • two days for Lesser Bairam; 
  • three days for Greater Bairam and Eve; 
  • one day for the birthday of Prophet Mohammed; one day for Al Isra and Al Mi’raj; and 
  • lastly, one day for National Day. 

It is crucial to abide by the leave granted when in need and to get back to work after the leave expires. Article 89 states that if any worker fails to resume work after the leave expires, then the wage for the period of his absence will be automatically forfeited, with effect from the day immediately after the last day of the leave. 

Moreover, as a general rule, an employer is prohibited from dismissing a worker or serving a notice of dismissal on him when he is on a leave discussed in this Section. The employer can obviously do so where he is allowed under this law to dismiss a worker without notice or without the gratuity. For example, Article 88 strictly prohibits any worker who is on annual/ sick leave to work for another employer and where his employer establishes otherwise, the worker may be terminated without notice and payment for leave period may also be denied by the employer.

Payment for working on holidays

Article 81 states that when, out of necessity, a worker is put on duty during public holidays or days off for which he was otherwise entitled to full or partial pay, he shall be granted substitute leave in respect of such days and 50% of his wage. If he is not granted substitute leave, he will be paid 150% of his basic wage by the employer for the days he has worked. 

Annual leave

According to Article 75, for every year of service, all the workers will be entitled to an annual leave:

  1. At least two days a month, where the worker’s period of service is more than six months but less than one year.
  2. At least 30 days a year, where the worker’s period of service is more than one year. In case the service of a worker is terminated, he will get annual leave in respect of fractions of the last year. 

Fixing the date of commencement of the annual leave and its division into maximum two periods if deemed necessary by the employer is allowed under the law. Moreover, any holiday stipulated by any law or an agreement, and any other days of leave due to sickness, which may fall within the ambit of annual leave are considered its integral part. 

For the annual leave days, the workers are entitled to their basic wage and if applicable, the housing allowance as well. And when a worker is put to duty for whole / part of his annual leave, and those leave days were not carried forward to the next year, is it the duty of the employer to pay him his normal wage along with an allowance in lieu of leave, for the actually worked days and the same shall be calculated based on his basic wage. However, the employers are strictly prohibited from making a worker to work more than once in two successive years during his annual leave. It is worth noting that as per this law, before a worker goes on annual leave, his employer is obliged to pay him the full wage due to him in addition to the leave pay prescribed by law. 

In fact, as per Article 79, the workers who are dismissed or who leave their job after the notice period are also entitled to be paid for any accrued annual leave days, to be calculated based on the worker’s wage as on the date when the leave became due.

According to Article 81, when a worker is put on duty on public holidays or during the days off for which he is otherwise entitled to be paid fully / partially, then substitute leave for such days along with his half wage will be granted to him and if he is not granted a substitute leave, then he is entitled to be paid 150% of his basic wage for the days worked.

Sick leave

Article 82 requires a worker who contracts an illness other than a work-related injury to report his illness within a maximum of two days and thereafter, the employer shall take necessary measures immediately for his medical examination in order to verify his illness.

Some important points regarding sick leave:-

  • No sick leave shall be given during the probationary period (Article 83).
  • A worker who falls ill after completion of three months after the probationary period, while he is in continuous service of an employer, is entitled to a sick leave for maximum 90 days, successive or otherwise, in respect of each year of service, to be calculated as:- full pay for the first 15 days; half pay for next 30 days; no pay for any further subsequent periods (Article 83).
  • If the illness of the worker is a direct result of his own misconduct (eg. consuming alcohol / narcotic drugs), he will not be granted sick leave (Article 84).
  • An employer is allowed to terminate the worker’s services who has failed to come back to work after all his sick leaves are extinguished (Article 85).
  • If a worker has to resign from his job due to illness before the lapse of the first 45 days of his sick leave and the cause of resignation is accepted by the employer’s medical practitioner / government medical officer, then it is the duty of the employer to pay him the wage due for the remainder of the first 45 days as referred (Article 86).

Special leave for pilgrimage

As per Article 87, once in the course of his entire service, every worker is entitled for a special leave of maximum 30 days for performing pilgrimage but without pay and such leave can’t be deducted from other leave periods due to him.

Chapter 5 of UAE Labour Law : terms related to safety of workers and social care

The safety and protection of the workers are paramount for an entity which has to be consistent with the idea of human rights as well. Thus, Chapter 5 of the UAE Labour Law lays down provisions related to the workers’ safeguards and protection, and health as well as social care. 

Workers’ safety

According to Article 91, it is the duty of the employers to provide appropriate safety measures for the workers’ protection against occupational injuries, diseases, fire and other hazards as specified that may take place during the work. For this, even the workers are required to use protective gear and clothing supplied to him and to comply with all instructions given to them by the employer. Further:-

  • All the instructions indicating the possible measures for prevention of fire and safeguarding the workers must be written in Arabic or any other language known to the workers and must be displayed at conspicuous position at the workplace (Article 92). 
  • First-aid boxes (one for every 100 workers) containing medicines, bandages, antiseptics, etc. must be provided at the workplace (Article 93). 
  • In terms of hygiene and giving a sound environment, it is the duty of the employer to ensure that the workplace is perfectly clean, ventilated and there is adequate lighting, drinking water and toilets at the workplace (Article 94). 
  • One or more medical practitioners must be arranged to carry out general medical examinations of the workers exposed to any of the occupational diseases. These examinations are to happen at regular intervals of maximum six months and the cases of occupational disease among workers and of resulting deaths must accordingly be informed to the employer as well as the labour department (Article 95). 
  • The Minister of Labour and Social Affairs along with the Minister of Health have the duty to lay standards of the medical care facilities to which the employer will comply (Article 96).
  • It’ll be unlawful to bring any kind of alcoholic beverages into a workplace for consumption or to allow a drunk person to enter or remain on the premises (Article 99).

As per Article 101, for the areas that are remote from the towns and that are not covered by regular means of transport, the employer is duty bound to provide suitable means of transport, living accommodation, water fit for drinking water, adequate food supplies, first-aid facilities and recreation and sports facilities. Amongst this, other than the food supplies, cost of all other services shall be borne by the employer. 

Chapter 6 of UAE Labour Law : disciplinary rules

Article 102 lays down the disciplinary measures that may be imposed on the workers by their employer or his representative. These are warning; fine; suspension from work with reduced pay for a maximum of 10 days; denial/deferment of periodical allowance where applicable; denial of promotion where applicable; dismissal without prejudice to severance pay; and dismissal with denial of all or part of the severance pay (it may not be imposed for reasons other than those specified in Article 120). These disciplinary penalties will be imposed in circumstances specified by the disciplinary regulation. 

However, certain considerations must be taken into account:-

  • If a worker has committed an act outside the workplace which is unrelated to the work/ employer/ the responsible manager, then no disciplinary measure can be taken against him. 
  • It is unlawful to impose more than one penalty or to combine a disciplinary penalty with any deduction in the worker’s wage. 
  • Any penalties given under Article 102 can be imposed on a worker only after he has been notified about the charges (nature, penalty, reasons, future penalty if act repeated, etc), his defense has been heard and allowed to be investigated, and all of this has been recorded in his personal file. 
  • Any worker can be charged with a disciplinary offence only within 30 days from the date it was detected and any disciplinary penalty can be imposed only within 60 days from the date of when enquiry was completed and worker was found guilty. 

Imposition of fine

Article 104 of the law states that a fine under this chapter may be expressed as either a specified sum or an equivalent to the salary of a worker for a particular period. Moreover, the fine set for any individual offence cannot exceed the equivalent of wages of five days and it’s prohibited to deduct the wages of more than five days in any given month to settle fines imposed on a worker. 

As per Article 105, it is necessary to record the fines imposed on workers in a special register, also specifying the worker’s name, his wage, and why and under what circumstances the fine was imposed. 

The amount collected in terms of the fines is to be placed in a special account and its monthly proceeds will be used to meet the cost of workers’ social welfare.

Denial of periodical allowance and promotion

Article 106 says that when the worker is denied the periodical allowance, it is allowed only once in any year and it can be deferred for a maximum of six months. On the other hand, Article 107 says that when a worker is denied a promotion, the same can be done only for one promotional cycle and thereafter, if he meets the requisites, he shall be promoted at the immediate next promotion cycle. 

Article 108 further provides that when any worker is so denied/deferred of the promotion or periodic allowance, the financial benefit accruing to an employer from such denial/ deferment shall be entered in a special register, also showing the worker’s name, his wage, and why and under what circumstances such action was taken. The amount so accrued is to be placed in a special account and its monthly proceeds will be used to meet the cost of workers’ social welfare as notified.

Chapter 7 of UAE Labour Law : termination and severance pay

Article 113 to 141 of this law have provisions relating to the termination of an employment contract, abandonment of the work by a worker or a non-national worker, arbitrary termination of a worker, repatriation expenses, etc. Further, provisions relating to severance pay in the employment contract are given.

Section I: termination of employment

Article 113 lays down the circumstances in which an employment contract can be terminated:-

  1. When the parties mutually make an agreement but the consent of the worker is given in writing; 
  2. When the terms of the contract are expired, unless otherwise extended as per this law expressly or implicitly; 
  3. For convenience of either party to an indefinite term contract, however, the provisions of this law regarding the notice and valid grounds of termination have been followed without any arbitrariness.

Article 114 further states that any such contract can’t be terminated because of the death of the employer unless the subject of the concerned contract is connected with him. However, it does not apply in case of the death of the worker or his total disability to work. Furthermore, notwithstanding partial disability, if a worker is capable of performing other work consistent with his state of health, then at the request of such worker, the employer shall assign him that other work if available and accordingly, pay him the wage normally paid to workers of such jobs, without any prejudice to the entitlements or compensation due to the worker under this Law. 

Upon expiry of the contract, every employer has to provide the worker with an end of service certificate free of charge and the certificate has to specify the starting and ending dates of the service, total period of service, nature of the work he was performing, and his last wage and supplements. Moreover, he has to return any certificates, documents, tools etc. belonging to the worker. 

Dismissal of a worker

Article 120 of the law empowers the employer to dismiss a worker without notice if he:-

  1. Assumes a false identity or nationality or if he submits forged certificates or documents;
  2. Is on probation and gets dismissed during or at the end of the probationary period; 
  3. commits a fault that has resulted in substantial material loss to the employer, but for this, the employer has to notify the incident to the labour department within 48 hours of knowing it; 
  4. disobeys instructions regarding safety of work or workplace, however, it is necessary that such instructions are in writing and posted at a conspicuous place and if the worker is illiterate, are verbally communicated to him; 
  5. defaults his basic duties laid in the contract and fails to rectify it despite a written interrogation and a warning of dismissal on repetition of such default; 
  6. is finally convicted of a crime against honour, honesty or public morals by a competent court;
  7. reveals any confidential information of his employer; 
  8. is found drunken or under influence of a narcotic drug at the time of working hours; 
  9. assaults employer, manager in charge or any of his workmates during the work hours; or 
  10. absents himself from work for more than 20 non-successive days in one single year, or for more than seven successive days, without any valid reason.

Abandonment by a worker

There are circumstances where a worker can also abandon his work without any notice. Article 121 lays down the same:-

  1. If the employer fails to honour his obligations towards the worker, as stipulated in the contract or under this Law. 
  2. If he is assaulted by employer or his legal representative. 

Arbitrary termination of a worker

As per Article 122 of this law, the service of a worker is said to be arbitrarily terminated by his employer if the ground for such termination is irrelevant to the work. More particularly, when it has arisen out of a formal complaint that the worker has filed with the competent authorities or a legal action initiated against the employer that has been proved to be valid.

Article 123 further provides for the recourse to be taken in case of arbitrary termination by the employer. In such a case, as per this provision, the employer may be ordered by the competent court to pay him a compensation and this compensation will be assessed by the court considering the nature of the work, extent of damage sustained by the worker and his service period. However, it is provided that such compensation should not exceed the worker’s wage for three months. It is further provided that the worker’s right to the gratuity and any compensation in lieu of notice as per this law shall not be prejudiced.  

Article 124 is worth mentioning here as per which, a worker’s service can’t be terminated for lack of medical fitness before all the periods of leave legally due to the worker are exhausted by him and any agreement which is against this provision shall be null and void, even if they are concluded before this law has come into effect. 

Abandonment by a non-national worker

Article 128 provides that in case of a definite term contract, when a non-national worker abandons his work before his contract ends without any valid reason, he is barred from taking up new employment for one year from the date of departure, even if the previous employer consents. Other employers are also prohibited from hiring or keeping them in service during this period.

Article 129 is with respect to indefinite term contracts. It says that when a non-national worker notifies his employer that he wishes to terminate his contract but he actually leaves the work before expiry of such notice period, then he is barred from taking up new employment for one year from the date of departure, even if the previous employer consents. Other employers are also prohibited from hiring or keeping them in service during this period.

It is important to note that these two provisions will not be applicable to a non-national worker who, based on the original employer’s consent, gets the approval of the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs before taking up any other employment. 

Repatriation expenses

Article 131 provides that when a contract expires, the employer bears the cost of repatriation of the worker to his point of hire or to any other mutually agreed point. When a worker joins another employer upon his contract expires, the new employer is responsible for the worker’s repatriation when their service concludes. Without prejudice to the foregoing, if the employer fails to return the worker or to pay his repatriation expenses, the same will be carried out by the competent authorities and then they will recover expenses by the employer through legal means. However, if the contract ends due to the worker’s fault and he has the means, then he is accountable for his repatriation expenses.

Points to be considered:-

  • Here, the term “repatriation expenses” of the worker means the amount of his travel ticket, travel expenses of his family and the shipping cost of his personal effects, as given in the labour contract or in policies of the firm. 
  • A worker who has been given accommodation by his employer needs to vacate the accommodation within 30 days from the termination date of his service.
  • A worker can not overstay in the accommodation beyond the specified period for any reason. However, for this it is necessary that the repatriation expenses, severance pay and any other entitlements that the employee is bound to pay are paid by the employer as per the contract, firm’s policies, or the law. 

Section II: severance pay

At the end of employment, Article 132 provides for a severance pay to be given to a worker who has completed one or more years of continuous service. It shall include:- 

  1. The wage of 21 days for each of the first five years of service. 
  2. The wage of 30 days for each additional year of service.

It is however provided that the total amount of severance pay should not exceed two year’s wage and it shall not include the days of absence from work without pay while calculating the period of service. The wage used as a basis for calculating the severance pay shall also not include whatever is given to the worker in kind, or allowance related to housing, transport, travel, overtime pay, representation, cashier, education of children, recreational and social facilities, and any other bonuses or allowances. Importantly, the severance pay will be paid to a worker for any fraction of a year he actually served but he should have completed one year of continuous service.

This law also gives the right to the employer to deduct any amount that is owed to him by a worker from his severance pay (Article 135). It is also provided that if a worker under a definite term contract abandons his employment at his own initiative before expiry of the contract period, he will not be given severance pay unless his service period is continued for more than five years (Article 138). 

Forfeiture of severance pay

Article 139 of this law provides for forfeiture of the entire severance pay by a worker in certain circumstances:-

  1. His dismissal from service due to any reason mentioned in Article 120 or when he abandons his service so that he is not dismissed as per Article 120.
  2. When he abandons his service of his own accord without notice (if there is an indefinite term contract) or before he has completed five years of continuous service (if there is a definite term contract). 

Chapter 8 of UAE Labour Law : terms related to compensation for occupational injuries 

Schedules 1 and 2 of this law contain several work-related injuries and occupational diseases. Article 142 states that if any such injuries/ diseases listed therein are sustained by a worker, the employer/ his representative has to report the matter immediately to the police and the labour department (or its local office) having jurisdiction where the place of business is located. Such a report must contain the worker’s name, age, occupation, address, nationality, brief account of the accident, its circumstances and the medical aid or treatment provided. 

When the report is received by the police, it shall carry out necessary investigation and make a report containing statements of the witnesses, employer/ his representative, injured (if his condition so permits); and specification as to whether the accident was work-related/ deliberate/ result of a gross misconduct of the worker. After completing the investigation, police has to send copies of the report to the labour department and the employer. The labour department may also request a supplementary inquiry from the police or may conduct one on its own if deemed necessary. 

Cost of treatment

Article 144 states that the cost of treatment of the worker in a government or private local medical centre will be borne by the employer till the time he recovers or is proven disabled. It will include costs of residence in a hospital or sanatorium, surgical operations, x-ray and medical diagnosis, medicines and rehabilitation equipment, supply of artificial limbs and other prosthetic appliances for a disabled person and any transport cost related to the worker’s treatment.

Report by attending physician 

Article 147 provides for a report to be compiled by the attending physician when the treatment has been finalised and send the copies of the report to the worker as well as the employer. In the report, he shall specify nature and cause of the injury, date of its happening, extent to which it is work-related, period of treatment, its result (whether permanent or other disability), degree of disability (if any), whether it is total or partial, and the extent to which the disabled worker is fit to resume his work despite the disability. 

Further, if a matter involves dispute relating to the extent of a worker’s physical fitness for work, degree of disability etc., the Ministry of Health takes up the matter and a medical board is set up by it which consists of three government medical officers to find out the disputed facts. The board may seek assistance from experts it believes are capable of doing the same. Finally, the decision of the board shall be final and submitted to the labour department so that necessary measures can be taken for its implementation. 

Cash allowance 

Article 145 of the law provides that where a worker is unable to carry out his work due to injury, it is the duty of the employer to pay him a cash allowance which shall be equal to his full pay throughout the treatment period or for 6 months, whichever is shorter and where the treatment period exceeds six months, the employer can reduce the allowance by one-half for further 6 months or until the time he fully recovers/ is declared disabled/ dies, whichever occurs first. Moreover, the cash allowance is calculated:-

  • for monthly, weekly, daily or hourly paid workers – based on the last wage received, and 
  • for the workers paid on a piecemeal basis – based on their average daily wage. 

Partial and Total Disability

Article 150 states that where due to a work-related injury/ occupational disease, a worker is rendered partially disabled permanently, he is entitled to get the compensation at the applicable rate specified in the two schedules, which is multiplied by the applicable death compensation amount as provided hereunder in Article 149. It is worth mentioning that the compensation paid to a worker in case of his permanent total disability will be the same as that payable in case of his death. 

Death of a Worker

Article 149 of the law lays down provision in case of death of a worker resulting from any work-related injury or occupational disease. In such a case, his family members are entitled to compensation equal to his basic wage for one year and the amount of compensation shall be between 18000-35000 Dirhams. 

The amount of compensation to the worker is calculated based on the last wage received by him before his death and it is distributed among his dependents in accordance with Schedule 3 attached to this Law. 

Here, the expression “deceased worker’s family” means the following persons who were dependant wholly or substantially on the deceased worker’s income for their subsistence at the time of his death:- 

  1. widow(s); 
  2. children- 
  • Sons below 17 years of age; 
  • Sons below 24 years age who are regularly enrolled in educational institutions; and sons too mentally or physically incapacitated to earn their own living. 

The term “sons” also includes the sons-in-law of the husband and of the wife who were dependent on the deceased worker at the time of his death; 

  • Unmarried daughters, including unmarried daughters-in-law of the couple dependent on the deceased worker at the time of his death; 
  1. parents; 
  2. brothers and sisters as per the prescribed conditions. 

No compensation in certain cases

No one should be benefitted from his own wrong. On the basis of this rule, Article 153 of the UAE Labour Law states that no compensation for an injury or disability shall be given to an injured worker if the inquiries undertaken by competent authorities establish any of the following:-

  • he willfully brought his injury with an intention of committing suicide or for obtaining compensation/ sick leave, or for any other reason; 
  • when the injury occurred, he was under influence of narcotic drugs or alcohol; 
  • he intentionally violated the safety instructions which were posted at conspicuous positions at the workplace; 
  • his injury/ disability was a result of gross and deliberate misconduct on his part; 
  • he refused to submit to medical examination or undergo treatment ordered by a medical board without any good reason. 

In these circumstances, the employer can’t be required to provide for the worker’s treatment or to pay him any cash allowance.

Chapter 9 of UAE Labour Law : terms related to collective labour disputes

Article 154 defines a “collective labour dispute” as a dispute between an employer and his workers, which involves common interest of all or a group of workers in a firm, occupation, trade or professional sector. Further, Article 155 says that both the parties shall strive to make an amicable settlement in any such dispute, however, if they fail in doing so, these procedures shall be followed:-

  1. The workers have to submit their complaint/ claim in writing to the employer and a copy to the labour department. 
  2. The employer shall reply to it in writing within seven working days from the date of receipt. Also, send a copy of the reply to the labour department.
  3. If the employer doesn’t reply within the prescribed time limit or if the reply does not lead to the dispute settlement, the labour department shall mediate an amicable settlement, either at its own initiative or at request of one of the parties to the dispute. 
  4. Where claimant is the employer, his complaint is required to be submitted directly to the labour department which will mediate between the parties for an amicable settlement of the dispute. 
  5. If the mediation of the labour department also fails to reach a settlement of the dispute within ten days, the dispute then shall be referred to the competent conciliation committee for determination and accordingly, both parties shall be informed in writing. 
  6. The parties to the dispute shall pursue it before the conciliation committee till the time  a settlement is reached. 
  7. The decision of the committee shall be issued by majority vote within two weeks of the reference. 
  8. The decisions of the committee shall be binding on the parties subject to their written agreement in this regard before the committee. If there is no such agreement, an appeal against the decision may be made within 30 days by either party or both of them to the Supreme Arbitration Board, otherwise such decision shall become final and enforceable. 

Supreme Arbitration Board

Article 160 provides for the setting up of a board called the “Supreme Arbitration Board”  within the MoLSA to settle collective labour disputes. The Board will be empowered to finally and conclusively settle all the collective labour disputes referred to it by the parties concerned. It’ll take its decisions by majority vote stating the grounds on which the decisions are based. The parties on which a final decision has been rendered can not raise it again except where the parties have mutual agreement between them.

Composition of the Board

  1. Chairman – The Minister of Labour and Social Affairs and in his absence, the Ministry’s Under Secretary or Director-General. 
  2. Member – A Federal Supreme Court judge appointed by order of the Minister of Justice on the nomination of the plenum of the Court. 
  3. Member – A person of high integrity, knowledge and experience in the relevant area and is appointed by order of the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs. 

Two alternate members may be appointed from the same categories as the two principal members, to take their place during their absence or inability to serve. Principal and alternate members shall be appointed for a renewable term of three years. 

Article 165 states that the decisions of the Board for settling the collective labour disputes will be applicable in collaboration with the competent authority in each Emirate. 

Chapter 10 of UAE Labour Law : terms related to labour inspection

Chapter 10 provides for labour inspection to be carried out by special inspectors affiliated to MoLSA and having specified powers and authority for the same. They must carry identity cards during inspection (Article 166). The arrival of the inspectors must be notified to the employers or their representatives and it is their duty to provide the inspectors with all necessary facilities and information so that the inspectors can efficiently carry out their duties. 

Functions of labour inspectors (Article 167)

  • They have to ensure proper compliance with this Law, for instance, with the employment terms, wages, and workers’ protection during work hours, as well as their health and safety, and the employment of juveniles and women. 
  • They need to extend technical information and advice to employers and workers so that they can efficiently comply with the provisions of the law.
  • They have to alert the competent authorities about any shortcomings in the existing law and make appropriate recommendations regarding the same
  • They need to record violations of this law or its executive regulations and orders.
  • If they find any violation during an inspection, they have to make a report documenting it and then submit it to the competent labour department for taking necessary action against the offender.
  • For any inspection, they can request the competent administrative authorities and police to provide any required assistance. They are also accompanied by a specialised medical practitioner if the inspection is related to the health aspects of the work.
  • Subject to the priority right to employment to the nationals and in addition to the general mandates relating to the appointment of the employees, the labour inspectors have to be fairly impartial and without any direct interest in the establishments they inspect and are required to pass a special professional ethics test after completing a training of minimum three months. 

Powers of labour inspectors (Article 170)

  • They are empowered to enter any firm at any hour of the day or night (within working hours) without any prior notice.
  • They can interrogate the employer/ workers either in private or in the presence of witnesses and can examine and obtain copies and extracts of any document required to be kept as per this Law. 
  • They have the power to take samples of any material used in the industry or its operations suspected to have a harmful effect on workers’ health or safety, so that they can be analysed in authorised laboratories and the degree of danger can be ascertained. The result of such an examination will be notified to the employer for him to take appropriate measures accordingly. The inspectors may require the employers to make alterations to the installations or plant used in the facilities, within defined time limits. 
  • They are empowered to ensure the notices and announcements are posted at the workplace as per the Law. 

Reports by Chief Labour Inspector

Article 176 provides for a monthly and an annual report to be prepared by the Chief Labour Inspector in the area whose copies are sent to the labour department. The monthly report shall contain the labour inspection activities, inspection aspects, and the number and types of violations committed. However, the annual report contains the results and effects of the inspections and his comments and proposals on the same.

Annual report by MoLSA

According to Article 177, every year, the MoLSA draws up an annual report on inspection activities in the State. This report contains all matters related to the Ministry’s supervision of the labour law implementation, for instance, provisions governing the inspection; officials in charge of inspection; statistics of the firms subject to inspection, number of workers, number of inspection visits and tours made by the inspectors, violations committed, penalties imposed, and the work related injuries and occupational diseases.

Chapter 11 of UAE Labour Law : terms related to penalties

Without prejudice to any harsher penalties provided in any other law, Article 181 specifies certain categories of individuals who may face imprisonment up to six months or a fine ranging between 3000 Dirhams and 10000 Dirhams:

  1. Those who breach any essential provisions of this Law, its executive regulations, or orders.
  2. Any person who obstructs, prevents, or tries to hinder an official entrusted with enforcing the provisions of this Law, its executive regulations, or orders, whether by actual force, violence, or threats.
  3. Any official responsible for implementing this Law, or an official who reveals after his service has ended any confidential work-related information, patent rights, or other work methodologies he came across in their official capacity.

Enforcement of the fine rulings 

Article 182 states that execution of the fine rulings shall not be stayed. A fine applicable to an employer for an offence shall be multiplied by the number of workers against whom the offence was committed, not exceeding three times the maximum prescribed fine. This applies to violations against the following provisions and their respective executive regulations and orders:-

  1. Violation of provisions of Article 13.
  2. Violation of provisions in Section II and Section III of Chapter 2.
  3. Violation of provisions of Chapter 3.
  4. Violations of Articles 114, 124, 125, 128, 129, 142, 144.

Points to be considered

  • Article 183 states that where an offence occurs within one year from the date when the court pronounced judgement for a similar offence committed by the same individual, the penalty may be doubled.
  • As per Article 184, except as stipulated in Articles 34, 41, and 126, penal proceedings actions will be initiated against the manager responsible for the company. Moreover, it can also be brought against the owner of the firm if there exist grounds to believe that such owner was aware of the circumstances constituting the offence. 
  • The employer fails to fulfil his obligations under this Law, the concerned labour department holds the authority to issue an order specifying the violation committed and instructing him to remedy it within a specified time period. If the violation remains unaddressed within the specified duration, the department will carry out the required remedial work at the expense of the employer and subsequently recover the same.
  • Article 186 provides that the labour department should initiate action against any guilty employer/worker only after they have been extended advice and guidance and, wherever necessary, warning in order to remedy the violations they are guilty of.

Chapter 12 of UAE Labour Law : terms related to concluding provisions

This is the concluding chapter of the law. It contains provisions related to the territorial jurisdiction of the labour departments, validity of inconsistent provisions and permissibility of making favourable rules for the national workers.

Territorial jurisdiction

To apply this law, the concerned labour departments and their territorial jurisdiction will be named by the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs. The heads of such departments of the MoLSA will be the judicial officers for the purposes of the application of this law (Articles 187 and 188).

Inconsistent laws

This law repeals any provision inconsistent with its own provisions (Article 189).

Favorable rules for national workers

If proposed by the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, the Council of Ministers may adopt rules more favourable to the national workers (Article 191). 


Overall, it can be concluded that by establishing this new labour law, the Government of UAE has taken an imperative step towards safeguarding the rights of employers as well as employees. Moreover, it also facilitates bringing more flexibility into the workplace as a result of which, market efficiency will be increased. In fact, provisions like equal pay for equal work will help bring about change in the mindset of the individuals thus, contributing towards a better society. However, towards its enforcement by the UAE entities, it’ll be important to account for the implementation of some of its major provisions relating to additional leave under the law such as the maternity leave, study leave and the paternity leave. Furthermore, it is also important to incorporate these provisions in the Employee Manual and Code of Conduct of every entity in the country so that there is an informed citizenry. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the functions of the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs under the UAE Labour Law?

The primary functions of the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs are to prescribe the rules, procedures and forms to be followed by the public and private employment agencies, their manner of coordination of activities, and the conditions for licensing private employment agencies and labour suppliers. The Minister also issues resolutions prescribing the occupational classification tables based on which the recruitments are made.

What is the limitation period for an action to be initiated under the UAE Labour Law?

According to Article 6 of the UAE Labour Law, the limitation period is one year. 

Can a child work as per the UAE Labour Law?

Yes, a child above the age of 15 can work under the UAE Labour Law. 

Does the UAE Labour Law allow for probation?

Yes, as per Article 37, a worker may be employed on probation for a period which should not exceed six months. 

Is subcontracting allowed under the new Labour Law of the UAE?

Yes, according to Article 41, an employer may subcontract any principal operation or its part to a third party. 

Is Friday a rest day as per the UAE Labour Law?

Yes, as per Article 70, Friday is the normal weekly rest day and if a worker is put to work on the said day, he shall be compensated with a substitute rest day or an increment in the wage. 



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