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UAE Employment Law and Reforms in 2016 Report


The law of employment also referred to as the labor law is a field of law that governs relations between employees and employers. It is adopted by every country with regard to its economic, legal, and mental specificities. This paper aims at investigating the primary features of employment law in the United Arab Emirates and determining how it is applied by organizations.

The overview of UAE law of employment

In the United Arab Emirates, labor matters are governed by one law – the Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 Regulating Labor Relations (hereafter the Law). There were several amendments to the law designed and adopted during the subsequent years with the latest changes introduced in 2016. This legal act regulates all workplace relations beginning from employment including recruitment of women, children, and juveniles to determining all details of organizing and managing work processes and defining working schedules, disciplinary rules, and quitting provisions. It also offers information about vacations, professional training, handling labor disputes, controlling the quality of work, and penalties. Gathering all provisions in one comprehensive law is beneficial for both employees and employers because they do not have to investigate a broad legislative framework. It makes the UAE labor system effective and well-organized.

All staff and workers whether natives or foreigners are obliged to follow the provisions of the Law. However, there are several categories of staff and employees to whom the Law is not applicable. These groups comprise of people employed by the federal government and the government departments, public and federal government institutions, municipalities, domestic servants, people involved in agriculture and grazing (except employees of companies specializing in processing food), and members of armed forces, security units, and police (“UAE Labor Law” 4).

The Law specifies that employing expatriates is only possible after receiving the permission of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. Moreover, Chapter 3 of the Law highlights the necessity of signing employment contracts that determine all details of placing to the job including the date of starting work, scheduling, wages and remuneration, nature of work and its location, rights, and responsibilities, and the duration of the contract unless it is unlimited in time. It should be noted that it is permissible to conclude the contracts in oral form. However, in this case, they are automatically considered as those for an unlimited period (“UAE Labor Law” 12).

The fact that an expatriate should receive permission to work in the UAE is motivated by the active policy of Emiratization designed by the federal government. According to this labor policy framework, specific attention should be paid to making the native population a dominant group of those employed. High wages and standards of living together with a favorable tax regime made the UAE attractive to foreigners. To solve the problem of foreign domination in the workplace, the Ministry of Labor has introduced the labor quota – a target of 55 percent for UAE natives employed by an organization (Barnett, Malcolm and Toledo 296). This step is necessary for reducing the level of unemployment among the UAE natives. However, it can be disadvantageous for the organization that views expatriates as more productive (Marchon and Toledo 2254).

The new employment legislation of 2016

In 2016, the UAE labor system was changed. Now, the Law includes some new provisions. For example, it excludes what was earlier known as the employment ban. It is a provision that prohibited working for six months in the case of terminating the contract unilaterally and moving to a new employer (Bobker par. 2). What was introduced instead is the agreed compensation either in the form of financial remuneration or working until the vacancy is not filled (Chaudhry par. 14). There is also the obligation of early notification about termination that is to be at least three months. Another amendment refers to the fixed term of the employment contract. It is now determined to be two years (Kapur par. 18). The same provision is applicable to visas granted to expatriates. The period of their operation will be two years just like the duration of the employment contract. So, in the case, if a foreigner wants to continue working in the UAE, he or she should renew a visa.


In conclusion, it can be said that the operation of one comprehensive labor law is the strongest side of the UAE labor system. Even though there are several groups of employees exempted from the Law effect, it creates the framework of equality and uniformity because all organizations are obliged to function under unique provisions and cannot make up their own terms of employment. One of its weaknesses, however, is the fact that there is no legally established minimum level of wages and the possibility of concluding a contract in a word that makes it impossible for use in the case of legal disputes. Bearing in mind the amendments to the UAE labor legislation and the policy of Emiratization, it can be said that the country works at improving its labor system preserving its attractiveness for both native and foreign employees but shifting the focus to the native dwellers and caring for their welfare and prosperity.

Works Cited

Barnett, Andy, Michael Malcolm and Hugo Toledo. “Shooting the Goose that Lays the Golden Egg: The Case of UAE Employment Policy.” Journal of Economic Studies 42.2 (2015): 285-302. Print.

Bobker, Keren. The National. 2016. Web.

Chaudhry, Nida. “How UAE Employment Law Is Changing in 2016.” 7 Days. 2016. Web.

Kapur, Shuchita. Emirates 24/7 News. 2016. Web.

Marchon, Cassia, and Hugo Toledo. “Re-thinking Employment Quotas in the UAE.” The International Journal of Human Resource Management 25.16 (2014): 2253-2274. Print.

2001. PDF File. Web.

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"UAE Employment Law and Reforms in 2016." IvyPanda, 29 Sept. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/uae-employment-law-and-reforms-in-2016/.

1. IvyPanda. "UAE Employment Law and Reforms in 2016." September 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/uae-employment-law-and-reforms-in-2016/.


IvyPanda. "UAE Employment Law and Reforms in 2016." September 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/uae-employment-law-and-reforms-in-2016/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "UAE Employment Law and Reforms in 2016." September 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/uae-employment-law-and-reforms-in-2016/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'UAE Employment Law and Reforms in 2016'. 29 September.

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