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What are the requirements relating to advertising positions?
There are no specific requirements, rules or regulations governing the advertisement of positions in the United Arab Emirates. It is common to find advertised posts being restricted to Western-qualified candidates only, specific genders or nationals of specific countries. The DIFC Employment Law’s anti-discrimination provisions do not extend to capture job applicants or candidates.
What can employers do with regard to background checks and inquiries in relation to the following:
(a) Criminal records?
Certificates of good conduct from the UAE police can be requested of employees as part of pre-employment and recruitment checks.
(b) Medical history?
As a pre-condition to the issuance of a UAE residency visa (and part of the general visa sponsorship application process), all expatriates in the DIFC must undergo a medical test at the DIFC’s own dedicated medical test centre. This test is intended to screen for certain infectious diseases (eg, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis). A UAE residency visa will not be granted if an expatriate fails this test.
(c) Drug screening?
There are no general restrictions contained in the DIFC Employment Law regarding employer screening for drugs or the implementation of drug-testing measures as part of the pre-employment stage. The UAE adopts a zero-tolerance approach to possession and misuse of narcotic drugs. Such pre-employment checks are rare in practice.
(d) Credit checks?
In November 2014 the UAE Central Bank set up the Al Ittihad Credit Bureau, which checks the creditworthiness of individuals (www.aecb.gov.ae). Timelines for reports on credit checks will vary depending on the bank.
(e) Immigration status?
Expatriate employees will require a DIFC work permit and residency visa through a locally licensed and registered entity in order to lawfully reside and work in the United Arab Emirates (and in particular, the DIFC). There is also a unified identification card issued by the Emirates ID Authority, which residents should carry at all times.
(f) Social media?
Generally, there are a number of laws in place (notably, the UAE Penal Code and UAE Cybercrimes Law and DIFC data protection laws) providing for an overarching framework of privacy and the punishment of misuse or breach. However, depending on a candidate’s user privacy settings, certain information may be publicly available. It is common for employers to use professional social media sites (eg, LinkedIn) as part of the general pre-employment and recruitment stage.
Wages and working time
Is there a national minimum wage and, if so, what is it?
There is no national minimum wage in the DIFC.
Are there restrictions on working hours?
In the DIFC, weekly working hours must not exceed, on average, 48 hours over a seven-day period, unless the employer first obtains the employee’s written consent to work longer hours.
Reduced Ramadan hours are applicable only to fasting Muslim employees.
Hours and overtime
What are the requirements for meal and rest breaks?
Where an employee’s daily working time is more than six hours, he or she is entitled to at least one hour of rest and prayer break. Employees are entitled to no less than 24 hours’ rest in each seven-day work period. There are no express overtime provisions in the DIFC.
How should overtime be calculated?
The DIFC Employment Law has no specific provisions on overtime or overtime pay.
Employees can agree in writing to opt out of the maximum 48-hour weekly working limit.
However, the law does expressly prohibit excessive employee working hours practices by providing that the employer cannot require or allow (directly or indirectly) an employee to work excessive hours or hours that would be detrimental to health and safety.
There is no case law regarding the term ‘excessive’ in this context. However, it would ultimately depend on the type of role and the impact that it has on the employee’s health.
What exemptions are there from overtime?
Is there a minimum paid holiday entitlement?
Employees are entitled to a minimum 20 working days’ paid holiday per year, accrued on a pro rata basis, for employees who have been employed for at least 90 days.
What are the rules applicable to final pay and deductions from wages?
Deductions from an employee’s wages cannot be made unless:
- the deduction or payment is required or authorised under a statutory provision or the employee’s contract of employment;
- the employee has previously agreed in writing to the deduction or payment;
- the deduction or payment is a reimbursement for an overpayment of wages or expenses; or
- the deduction or payment has been ordered by the court.
What payroll and payment records must be maintained?
For each employee, the employer must keep records (in paper or electronic format) of:
- the employee's name, date of birth, occupation, telephone number and contact address;
- the date on which employment began;
- the employee's wages (gross and net, where applicable) and the applicable pay period;
- the hours worked by the employee on each day;
- the benefits paid to the employee by the employer;
- any deduction made from the employee's wages and the reason for it;
- the dates of the public holidays taken by the employee and the amounts paid by the employer in that respect;
- the dates of annual leave taken by the employee, the amounts paid by the employer in respect of the leave and the accrued days and amounts owing; and
- sick leave and other special leaves of absence.
The records must be kept in English and at the employer's principal place of business in the free zone. They must be retained by the employer for at least two years after the employment terminates.
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