Important and/or distinctive aspects of recruitment legislation in UAE

In the UAE, there are a number of checks that an employer has to undertake during recruitment.

Emiratisation considerations

During the recruitment process employers should consider whether an Emirati candidate is available to fill the position. The Emiratisation Policy was introduced in 2004, by the Federal government to increase the UAE national workforce into the labour market; currently however the statistics show that over 80% of the UAE workforce are expatriates. 

Residence visa/work permit applications

Employers are under an obligation to seek approval from the Ministry of Labour and Immigration Authority for expatriate employees. When the applications are approved, work permits/residency visas are issued and the employee will reside and work in the UAE under the ‘sponsorship’ of their employer. 

Reference checks and data protection

Employers are under an obligation to provide an employee with a service certificate that sets out basic information such as length of service, designation and their remuneration package. Employers must ensure that, when they provide references or request references, the information disclosed does not breach any statutory obligations. The unauthorised use or breach of personal data can have serious implications, including criminal sanctions. 

The DIFC data legislation is consistent with the European Data Protection Directive. Employers in the DIFC must ensure that personal data is lawfully collected, stored, used and processed. 

Labour Ban checks

Employers are able to apply for six or twelve month labour bans to be placed on former employees, if for example, the employee resigned prior to the end of the agreed fixed term contract. Where a labour ban is in place, the new employer will either have to wait until the ban expires or make an application for it to be lifted.

Academic checks

Employers are required to check that their candidate possesses the relevant academic qualifications for the role. Original academic certificates will still have to be verified by means of a long attestation and legalisation process prior to submission to the local authorities. 

Medical checks

All candidates are required to undertake pre-employment health checks for certain illnesses and diseases as set out in statute. A work permit will not be issued where the candidate has any of the these conditions.