In February 2022 the new UAE Labour Law[1] came into force marking a landmark change to the employment landscape in the United Arab Emirates – the first significant change in employment legislation in 41 years. Employers in the UAE (with the exception of the DIFC and ADGM free zones[2], which have their own employment laws in place) were given one year (from 2 February 2022) to ensure that they are compliant with the provisions with the new law.

As July is almost finished, this means that UAE employers have a little over six months to ensure that their human resources (HR) affairs are in order. This includes having all employees on fixed term contracts and having the requisite policies and procedures in place as required by the UAE Labour Law.

As the new president of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in his recent address to the nation[3], emphasised the importance and value of human capital in the UAE, this is a good time to ensure that companies’ employment policies and processes are compliant with the law and supports this vision.

To refresh your memory, the main measures that most employers should take before 2 February 2023 are:

  • Ensuring all employees are on fixed term employment contracts – up to maximum of 3 years;
  • Ensuring all employment contracts are compliant with the new law, including any changes regarding probation, leave, non-compete provisions and termination provisions;
  • Ensuring that all employees are employed in the right category and have the right work permit, for example, part time, full time, temporary, flexible and freelance employees;
  • Providing for adequate record keeping as required by the law, but also ensuring that the collection, processing and storage of this information is compliant with the new UAE Personal Data Protection Law[4];
  • Providing a safe working environment for its employees and ensuring that all health and safety policies are in place; and
  • Ensuring that all employees are aware of the company policies (which are Labour Law compliant) in place and/or creating an Employment Handbook to capture all this if it is not yet in place, including policies related to the employment benefits (i.e. working hours, leave benefits, overtime etc.), disciplinary and grievance procedures, anti-discrimination policies and codes of conduct (as may be applicable from company to company).

Six (6) months is not long to go, so we would recommend that if companies have not had their HR departments look into this, it does so now before the time runs out.