UAE workers
Image Credit: Pexels

Labour Day is a day to celebrate the achievements of workers and workers' rights. 

Labour Day is celebrated around the globe on May 1 and it is a day dedicated to workers. The day originated in the US in the 19th century when the labour union movement rose up against unjust working conditions and demanded better pay, reasonable hours, and paid leaves.

Labour rights are well protected under the UAE law and it is important to know about your legal rights. 

1. You have a right to annual leave

All workers should take leave on public holidays. The worker shall be entitled to an official leave with full payment in the following occasions:

  • New Year's Day: One day
  • Islamic New Year: One day
  • Eid al Fitr: Two days
  • Eid al Adha and Arafat Day: Four days
  • National Day: Two days
  • Commemoration Day: One day

The worker should also be entitled an annual leave every year of service of no less than the following periods:

Two days for each month should the period of service of the worker be of six months at least and a year at most, or thirty days for each year should the period of service of the worker exceed one year. Should the service of the worker be terminated, the worker shall be entitled to an annual leave for the fractions of the last year.

2. You should always get paid regularly

Wages should be paid on a working day and at the work site, in the national currency of the state. Workers employed in return for an annual or a monthly wage have to be paid at least once per month. Your employer is not allowed to force you to purchase their products. And also, you are not required to purchase food or other goods from certain stores or from the products of the owner.

3. Your employer cannot deny you maternity leave

The UAE Labour Law, Federal Law No. 8, Article No. 30 states as follows: “A female worker shall be entitled to maternity leave with full pay for a period of 45 days, including the period preceding and following her confinement, on condition that she has been in her employer’s service for a continuous period of not less than one year. If she has not completed the previously mentioned period of service, she shall be entitled to maternity leave with half pay.

4. Your employer is not allowed to keep your passport

An employer cannot ask you to hand over your passport to keep in their custody without your written consent. Furthermore, an employer cannot terminate an employee for not surrendering their passport to the employer.

5. You should never bear the costs of your residency visa

According to the UAE labour law, visa expenses must be borne by the employer. You, as an employee, are never required to reimburse your employer for visa costs at any time. Visa costs and sponsorship costs are the sole responsibility of the employer and regardless of how or why your contract is terminated, you are not legally liable to pay for this. Companies have been known to ask for instalment-based deductions for visa costs from employees - this is illegal and punishable by law.

6. You should work no more than 8 or 9 hours a day

The maximum number of ordinary working hours for adult workers shall be eight hours per day, or forty eight hours per week. The number of hours may be increased to nine hours per day for people employed in trade, hotels, cafeterias, security and other jobs whose addition may be made by virtue of a decision from the Minister of Labour. Furthermore, the daily number of working hours may be reduced for strenuous or harmful works and such by virtue of a decision from the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs .

The ordinary working hours shall be reduced by two hours during Ramadan. The commutation periods spent by the worker from the place of residence to the work site thereof shall not be calculated within the working hours.

7. Want to resign? You do not need your employers consent

You do not need your employers' consent. The Labour Law does not require the consent of the employer for resigning from a job. This is your own decision to make. You cannot be forced to resign either.

8. If you leave you need to complete your notice period

Your notice period is mandatory. You have to keep in mind that for all labour contracts, the notice period mentioned in the contract is compulsory as it has been agreed between the employer and employee. When an employee resigns, they are obliged to serve the notice or pay a compensatory amount, unless he or she has a written statement from the employer waiving the notice period for whatever reason. It is usually no less than 30 days.

What happens if you leave without serving your notice period? You can be banned from working in the UAE for a period of up to one year.

9. When you resign, you are entitled to gratuity

Gratuity pay is calculated based on the most recent salary paid into your account without allowances and/or bonuses. It can be different depending on whether your contract was limited or unlimited.

A limited or fixed term contract is where the employee agrees to stay with the company for a certain number of years with a set end date. Resigning before the end of this period could mean one or all of these; a labour ban, loss of labour rights or even payment of compensation to the employer.

An unlimited contract has no such period clause or number of years, and therefore, has no end date. However, a notice period of one to three months is applicable for termination of contract from either side.

10. You have the right to a grace period after your work visa is terminated

After termination of employment contract and cancellation of work visa, the terminated employee is granted a 30-day grace period from the date of cancellation, where he can either obtain a new residence permit or leave the country. Illegal residents are liable to be fined/deported.

DISCLAIMER: Gulf News is not responsible for any amendments made to the UAE Labour Law. All labour disputes must go through the Ministry of Labour. This article may only be used as a guide.