The UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The new Labour Law of the UAE comes into effect from tomorrow. The amended Labour Law, which was first outlined by the UAE Government last November, provides options that were not available before and strengthens employee rights.

Federal Decree-Law No 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Labour Relations covers various aspects of the relationship between employers and employees in the private sector workforce, replacing Federal Law No (8) of 1980.

Types of work permits

Dr Abdul Rahman bin Abdul Manan Al Awar, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, said the new law will promote the UAE labour market’s position as one of the most prominent and important global labour markets, and will enhance its flexibility, efficiency, ease of work.

It will also help attract further competencies, expertise and skills, thanks to the provision of protection and guaranteeing the rights of both parties.

He added that the new law provided several options for employers and workers to determine the form and pattern of the contractual relationship.

The law has provided 12 types of work permits and six types of work patterns under which contractual relationships are established.

The minister stated that the executive regulations of the decree-law recently approved by the Cabinet set the conditions and controls of work patterns and the obligations of both the employer and the worker, according to each type and as required.

“The new Labour Law protects work relationship and keeps pace with its developments and exceptional circumstances through an evolving system that maintains both parties’ rights and promotes investing in local and global talent,” said the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) on Sunday.


Employment contracts

Emirati lawyer Ali Musabah, owner of Ali Musabah Advocate and Legal Consultants, told Gulf News that one of the major changes under the new legal provisions is that employment contracts must now be limited. “This means people on indefinite, or permanent contracts will be switched to fixed-term contracts of up to three years, which can be renewed. In the past, there were limited and unlimited contracts,” Musabah said.

All new contracts will need to be drafted by companies in the private sector as of February 2 this year. All private sector employers must replace the current employment contracts with MOHRE with new employment contracts, in line with the changes, within a maximum period of one Gregorian year from the date of the law’s implementation. That means, February 1, 2023, is now the effective deadline for implementing these changes.

According to the new UAE Labour Law, employees on indefinite or permanent contracts will be switched to fixed-term contracts of up to three years. Image Credit: Supplied

Special leave

Musabah said that employees in the private sector can enjoy a minimum of one day of leave per week, to be decided by the employer. He added that it was also decided to grant the worker some special leave days based on the new rules.

“The special leave days now include a mourning leave between three to five days in the event of the death of a worker’s relative,” he explained. Other leaves are paternity leave of five days, which is meant to allow an employee to spend time with his family after the birth of a child. This leave can be taken within a period of six months after the child is born and can be availed either intermittently or continuously.

The new law grants a study leave of ten days to a worker who has to take an exam, provided he or she has completed two years of employment with the same employer.

Paternity leave
The new UAE Labour Law now allows paternity leave to private sector employees. Image Credit: Supplied

The new law also provides longer maternity leave, with 45 days of leave with full pay and the next 15 days with half pay, along with other articles providing details of how an employee can avail of sick leave and unpaid leave.

New models of work to boost productivity

Musabah said that another significant amendment in the law is the new model of work that will enhance ease of business and ensure greater flexibility in the labour market. These include full-time, part-time, temporary or flexible work.

“It will build a comprehensive relationship between employers and employees to boost productivity at lowest operational costs through part-time work, temporary work and flexible work,” he added.


The employee is supposed to work for eight hours per day or 48 hours in a week. But the new law also allows an option to the employee to work for 40 hours a week on a condensed working hours model, if his or her employment contract allows it.

Prohibiting discrimination, forced labour, harassment, bullying

The new Regulation of Labour Relations Law in the UAE strengthens the principle of equal opportunities, emphasises equal access to jobs and enjoyment of their rights. “The law prohibits all forms of discrimination, bullying, violence, harassment, coercion and threats at the place of work.”

Apart from articles prohibiting discriminations based on race, colour, sex, religion, national origin or social origin, there is an article on ‘Equality, non-discrimination’ that specifies the right of women to equal treatment.

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All provisions regulating the employment of workers without discrimination shall apply to working women and are aimed at granting women equal wage as men if they perform the same work or other work of equal value.

According to MOHRE, the new law will ensure protection of both, employees as well as employers, in the private sector in the UAE. Musabah believes the new amendment will attract the best talents to the country and preserve their rights.

“It is in line with the country’s march towards the future. Having a stable work environment will develop the country on the international level as well as increase flexibility and sustainability of the workforce,” Musabah added.