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Understanding your employee rights is a very important part of living and working in the UAE. Below is the labour law, as published by the UAE Ministry of Labour, with regards to the employment of workers.

Disclaimer: The following text comes from the UAE Ministry of Labour’s UAE Labour Law.

Employment of Workers

Article 9

Work is deemed a right of the United Arab Emirates Nationals. Others may only work in the State in accordance with the conditions set forth herein and the decisions issued in application thereof.

Article 10

Should national workers not be available, the priority of employment shall be given to:

1 - Arab workers holding the nationality of an Arab State.

2 - Workers holding other nationalities.

Article 11

A National Employment Section shall be established in the Department of Labour and shall have jurisdiction to:

a - Find adequate job opportunities for nationals.

b - Assist employers in fulfilling their need of national workers whenever needed.

c - Register unemployed nationals or those searching for better job in a special register. Such registry shall be made upon their request, and the applicant shall receive gratis a certificate of such registration on the date of the submission of the application.

The registration certificate shall have a serial number and shall contain the name, age, place of residence, profession, qualifications and past experiences of the applicant.

Article 12

Employers may employ any unemployed national, and must in such event notify the Department of Labour thereof in writing, and such within fifteen days from the date of employment thereof. Such notification shall comprise the name and age of the worker, the date of employment thereof, the wage and type of work assigned thereto and the number of the registration certificate.

Article 13

It shall not be permissible to employ non-nationals in the United Arab Emirates without the prior consent of the Department of Labour and the obtainment of a work permit in pursuance of the procedures and rules stipulated by the Ministry of labour and Social Affairs.

Such permit shall not be granted unless the following conditions are met:

a - The worker must possess professional competence or academic qualifications needed in the country.

b - That the worker has lawfully entered the country and that he satisfied the conditions prescribed in the residence regulations in force in the state.

Article 14

The Department of Labour may not consent to the employment of non-nationals unless it examines the records thereof and ensures that there are no unemployed nationals registered in the employment section, capable of performing the required job.

Article 15

The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs may cancel the work card issued to non-nationals in the following cases:

a - Should the worker remain unemployed for a period exceeding three consecutive months.

b - Should the worker no longer fulfils one or more conditions on whose basis the card is granted.

c - Should it show that a national worker is qualified to replace such worker. In such event, the worker shall remain in his position until the end of the contract term or the work card granted thereto, whichever is earlier.

Article 16

A special section for the employment of non-nationals shall be established in the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs for the regulation of the work therein by a ministerial decision.

Article 17

No natural or juridical person may work as a medium for the recruitment or supply of non-national workers without a license therefore.

Such license may only be issued for nationals and in cases where the issuance thereof is deemed necessary. It shall be issued by a decision from the Minister of Labour.

Such license shall be for a period of one renewable year. The licensee shall be subject to the supervision and control of the Ministry. Said licenses may not be granted should there be an employment office affiliated to the Ministry or to the entity approved thereby operating in the region and capable of acting as a mediator in the supply of labour.

Article 18

Licensed labour mediator or supplier may not request or accept from any worker, whether prior or subsequent to his admission to employment, any commission or material reward in return for the acquisition of the work by the worker, or to charge the worker for any expenses unless as it is provided for or approved by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

Workers supplied by the employment mediator or supplier shall be deemed, upon their admission to work, workers for the employer. They shall be entitled to all the rights granted to the workers of the establishment where they work, and shall relate directly to their employer without any interference from the employment mediator whose task and relation with such workers shall end upon their supply to the employer and employment thereby.

Article 19

Rules, procedures and forms adopted by the public and private employment offices, the manner of coordination among the activities of such offices and the condition by virtue thereof the license for the establishment of employment offices or for the work as employment mediator or supply is granted, as well as the professional classification schedules adopted as basis of employment operations shall be determined by the decisions of the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs.

Source UAE Ministry of Labour

Call centre For any Labour issues, call 800 665

Locate your nearest Ministry of Labour office

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 simply quotes the UAE MOL.