7 things you might not realise are against the UAE's Labour Law
Did you know that you’re actually meant to get time-and-a-half when you work on public holidays? This and more below…
When people criticise Dubai and the UAE, they often make sweeping statements about labour conditions and worker’s rights, but the UAE Labour Law actually protects workers in many ways (whether companies adhere to the law is then the issue).
And, so that you know your rights and know what you can definitely query with your company, we spoke to lawyer Rania El Tawil from BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates. She pointed out seven things companies sometimes do in the UAE that are actually totally against the law.
7 things that are against the labour law in the UAE
1. Retaining an employee’s passport: “This practice constitutes an infringement on both federal and international level. The Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation issued a decree whereby it is explicitly forbidden to retain someone’s passport, and any violation of the decree will result in a jail sentence and/or a fine.
“Additionally, the UAE is signatory to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention on the Abolition of Forced Labour, which in turn prohibits similar practices by an employer.”
2. Not compensating for work completed during public holidays: “Employees are not meant to work during public holidays unless it is necessary, in which case the employee shall be granted a compensatory leave in addition to a 50% extra payment. If the employee is not compensated by leave, the employer will have to pay a bonus equivalent to 150% of his basic remuneration in respect of the days worked.”
3. Partial/late and/or non-payment of a salary: The payment of full salaries on time is carefully monitored by both the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratization and the Wage Protection System. Any failure to comply will result in the Ministry blocking the company from issuing further residencies in addition to a pecuniary fine.”
4. Deducting a health insurance premium from an employee’s salary: “A company is under the obligation to provide health insurance to all of its employees at its own cost, however the company is not responsible for providing insurance coverage to employee’s dependents.”
So basically, if your company is trying to take your health insurance payment out of your salary (unless it’s for a premium add on like dental, for instance), that’s against the UAE Labour Law.
5. Deducting penalties from an employee’s salary: “Employers may not deduct portions of the salary by way of a disciplinary measure against the employee i.e. for arriving late to work.”
6. Not compensating for overtime: “The UAE Labor Law provides for a maximum number of working hours (48 hours per week) which, if exceeded, entitles the employee to an overtime payment.”
So, if you work from 9am to 6pm Sunday to Thursday, that’s 48 hours, and any more hours you’re expected to work must be compensated (that could also be done via leave in lieu).
7. Not granting annual leave for more than two consecutive years: “An employer may refuse a leave request or suggest that it is divided, nonetheless the employer may not reject granting leave for an employee for more than two consecutive years.”
Is one of these happening to you and you don’t know what to do? Well, a good start would be to call the Ministry of Human Resources’ hotline on (800) 66473. They’re very well informed and helpful and can give general or specific advice. Talking to them is definitely a great start.
You can also follow law firm BSA on Twitter for regular updates.
Please note: This information was correct at the date of publishing, but laws are liable to change.
Photo: Getty Images