A number of important rules announced by the UAE labour ministry have recently come into effect, impacting employees, job seekers and businesses of all sizes. These regulations reflect greater transparency in employment terms in the UAE and more flexibility in labour mobility.
Here are the key points that you need to be aware of.
Protection of employee rights
Among the changes is the requirement of an employee to sign an offer letter (which conforms with the labour ministry’s unified Standard Employment Contract) before his or her arrival to the UAE or commencement of work. According to the decree the offer letter may not be altered during this process without the consent of the ministry. Entry visas will not be issued until this process is completed and letters and contracts are submitted to the ministry.
The idea behind this is to ensure that workers receive all benefits promised to them under the terms of the job offer. It addresses a widespread concern among professionals and workers who relocate to the UAE for work, only to be disappointed with the terms in place.
“A common cause of complaints among expatriate workers, is that the final terms and conditions set out in an official MOL contract are often less favorable than the terms and conditions set out in the offer letter used to entice the employee to move to the UAE”, Taylor Wessing, of global law firm Taylor Wessing said recently in a review of the new regulation. “This Decree should therefore be welcomed as it increases stability and transparency,” it added.
Termination of contracts
The termination of employee contracts is another area, in which the new rules provide more clarity. Workers and employers have the right to end the contract when it expires. In the case of early termination, this must be done at least one month before, and no longer than three months before the last day of work. In this scenario, the party which seeks to end the contract will bear the consequences or penalties.
The six-month ban on issuing work permits to employees who leave a job will not apply to workers who hold a university degree, post-secondary diploma, or high school diploma, if they have served at least six months with the company.
Work permits and complaints
In addition to the above, an employee may be granted a work permit for a new employer, if the previous company becomes inactive or fails to pay wages for more than 60 days.
Blue collar workers and those recruited from abroad are most likely to be the main beneficiaries of the new rules, according to Al Tamimi & Co. The new changes certainly add transparency and clarity on issues such as offer letters and termination provisions.
Another question that often arises, is related to the process of an employee filing a complaint against his or her employer. Under the UAE Labour Law, workers are required to submit their complaint in writing to the employer, while a copy would be submitted to the Labor Ministry. The employer is then required to reply in writing within seven working days and send a copy to the ministry.