Part-time and flexible working arrangements are a fundamental part of workforces in western jurisdictions and serve as a significant incentive that employers can use to recruit and retain their talented employees. However, part-time and flexible working is not currently a working arrangement which many employers offer to their employees within the United Arab Emirates. This may be about to change in light of a significant statutory development.

Ministerial Decision 31/2018

The United Arab Emirates enacted Ministerial Decision 31/2018 at the beginning of March 2018. The decision provides a legal framework that enables employers to legally employ and sponsor part-time employees and permits those part-time workers to be employed by more than one UAE employer at a time.

The decision applies to UAE nationals and expats who are skilled first and second-tier workers in the United Arab Emirates only, which means individuals who hold a university degree or higher or who have completed a diploma in any technical or scientific field.

The key aspects of the decision are as follows.

Key features To work part-time, employees must obtain a part-time work permit from the UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) and be engaged on a new, standard form part-time employment contract.

The MOHRE distinguishes between 'primary' employers and 'secondary' employers. Primary employers are responsible for all costs associated with sponsoring a part-time employee and must also provide the employee with his or her end of service gratuity, annual leave and any other statutory benefits provided by the UAE Labour Law 8/1980.

The secondary employer must pay the employee's salary for the hours that he or she works and cover the costs associated with the part-time work permit. The secondary employer is not legally required to provide any other statutory benefits under the UAE Labour Law, although it can provide any such benefits on a discretionary basis.

Significantly, a no objection certificate is not required from the primary employer before the part-time employee can work for secondary employers. In fact, it is not possible for either a primary or secondary employer to prevent an employee from working elsewhere (even for a competitor) unless a court order is obtained. The employee simply needs to obtain permission from the MOHRE.

Part-time employees must work a minimum of 20 hours per week for the primary employer and are then free to work additional hours for other employers, provided that their total working hours do not exceed eight hours per day or 48 hours per week. In exceptional circumstances, working hours may be increased to 60 hours per week, provided that the employee is given at least one day off per week.

Comment

The implementation of Ministerial Decision 31/2018 is a fantastic development for UAE employers and employees. It supports employers that require only part-time work and have the budget to recruit only part-time employees. Further, it supports UAE nationals and expats who wish to work for shorter hours or would like to have more than one role. This development is a win-win for all parties, and businesses should consider creating roles for part-time employees.

For further information on this topic please contact Luke Tapp or Andrea Hewitt-Sims at Pinsent Masons by telephone (+971 4 373 9700) or email (luke.tapp@pinsentmasons.com or andrea.hewitt-sims@pinsentmasons.com). The Pinsent Masons website can be accessed at www.pinsentmasons.com.

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