The ‘UAE Labour law’ governs the labour rights of employees in the private sector. It applies to all employees working in the UAE, whether UAE nationals or expatriates. However, there are certain categories of employees who are exempted from the law and may have to follow another set of regulations. Learn about employment laws and regulations in the private sector.
Ashish Mehta, founder and managing partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates, is qualified to practice law in Dubai, UK and India. He addresses some of the questions regarding labour laws and rights;
Question: I recently lost my job at a UAE-based company. I want to understand what my rights are in this situation. What am I entitled to? What happens to my unused leaves?
Response: Pursuant to your queries, it is assumed that you were employed as a full-time employee by a mainland company in the UAE and that you completed more than one year on the job. Therefore, the provisions of Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Employment Relations (the ‘Employment Law’) and those of Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022 on the Implementation of Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 Regarding the Regulation of Employment Relations (the ‘Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022’) are applicable.
In the UAE, upon serving the stipulated notice period, an employee is eligible for unpaid salary, cash allowance based on the basic salary for the annual leave which are not availed during the tenure of employment, gratuity and repatriation costs to their home country.
The Employment law states that an employee is entitled for gratuity if he/she has completed one or more years of employment. This is in accordance with Article 51(2) of the Employment Law, which states “A foreign full-time employee who completes one or more year in the continuous service is entitled to a severance pay, which is calculated on the basis of the basic salary as follows:
a. Twenty-one working day’s salary for each of the first five years of service.
b. Thirty working days salary for each subsequent year of service.”
Furthermore, once an employee is terminated, he/she is eligible for encashment related to annual leave not availed. This is in accordance with Article 19(2) of the Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022, which states, “Subject to the provisions of Clauses 8 and 9 of Article 29 of the Employment Law, If an employee service ends he shall be paid a cash allowance for the balance of his legally due annual leave, according to the basic salary.”
An employee is entitled for repatriation costs once terminated. This is in accordance with Article 13(12) of the Employment Law, which states, “Bear the cost of the employee’s repatriation to his point of hire or to any other point that was mutually agreed upon, unless the employee joins another employer, or the employment contract is terminated for reasons due to the employee; in which case, the costs shall be borne by the latter.”
An employer is obligated to provide an employee with an experience certificate on termination of the contract. This is in accordance with Article 13(11) of the Employment Law, which states “Provide the employee, upon the latter’s request at the expiry of the employment contract, with a free of charge end of service certificate, which shall specify the service commencement and end dates, the total period of service, the position or the nature of work performed, the last wage, and cause of end of the employment contract, provided that the certificate does not include anything which might harm the reputation of the employee or reduce his opportunities of finding a job.”
Based on the aforementioned provisions of law, you are entitled for gratuity, encashment for annual leave not availed by you, repatriation costs and experience certificate. You will also be eligible for unpaid salary as well.
Further, if you feel that your employer has terminated you without a valid reason, then this may be considered arbitrary. It may be also noted that if your employer has terminated you without serving the stipulated notice period, you may be eligible for salary in lieu of the notice period. This is in accordance with Article 43(3) of the Employment Law.