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Working Conditions in United Arab Emirates

1. Minimum working conditions

Under the Labour Law, employees are entitled to at least a 1 hour break once every five hours. Employers are obliged to provide warnings, protective equipment and training on the specific health and safety dangers applicable at their work premises. Employers are obliged to maintain workplaces with adequate lighting, drinking water, ventilation and toilets.

Under DIFC Employment law, employees are entitled to a rest break of one hour at least once every six hours, to uninterrupted rest of 11 hours in every 24 hour period, and to rest of not less than 24 hours once every seven day period.

The DIFC Employment Law similarly required employers to have in place adequate systems and procedures to minimize risk to employee health and safety, and to provide adequate working conditions. In addition, the DIFC Employment Law includes an express obligation on the employer to provide and maintain a workplace that is free from harassment, and is safe and without risks to the employee’s health.

2. Salary

There is no minimum wage in the UAE. However, there are minimum earnings requirements for a foreign employee who wishes to sponsor his family to reside with him in the UAE. In 2009, the Ministry of Labour introduced the Wages Protection System pursuant to which all employees registered by the Ministry of Labour must be paid in UAE Dirhams by direct electronic transfer through an institution regulated by the UAE Central Bank. The Wage Protection System initially only applied to employees working outside of a free zone, although most recently, the Jebel Ali Free Zone has adopted the system, and others may follow suit.

3. Maximum working week

The UAE Labour Law provides for a maximum working week of 48 hours, 8 hours a day; with Friday being the weekly day of rest.

The DIFC Employment Law does not set out the maximum normal working hours per day, although the maximum weekly working hours must not exceed 48 hours in any seven day period, unless the employer had first obtained the employee’s consent in writing.

4. Overtime

Under UAE Labour Law, employees who are not in managerial positions (meaning someone with supervisory authority over other employees) are entitled to overtime pay. Overtime is normally restricted to 2 hours a day meaning an employee should not be asked to work for more than 10 hours a day. During Ramadan, working hours are reduced to 6 hours a day for all employees. Overtime is paid in accordance with statutory rates set to whether overtime is completed on a normal working day, during night time, a Friday or other normal rest day, or on a public holiday.

The DIFC Employment Law does not provide for statutory overtime.

5. Leave

The minimum entitlement to paid annual leave is 30 calendar days a year, with an employee only becoming entitled to accrue leave once he or she has completed the probationary period. Under the DIFC Employment Law, minimum holiday entitlement is 20 working days for an employee employed for 3 months or more. The minimum entitlement to sick leave is 90 calendar days a year, with full pay for 15 days, half pay for 30 days and nil pay for 45 days. An employee only becomes entitled to sick pay three months following the successful completion of the probationary period. Under DIFC Employment Law, sick leave is 90 days on full pay. Finally, once during the employment, an employee can take 30 days’ unpaid leave to perform Haj.

For more information, please contact L&E Global.
This information was contributed by Clyde & Co.
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