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 for advertised posts to be restricted to Western-qualified candidates, specific genders or nationals of specific countries. The hierarchy of importance stipulated above (ie, UAE nationals first, followed by nationals of other Arab states and then individuals of other nationalities) should apply, but this is generally not implemented by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, despite there having been more robust enforcement in certain sectors.
What can employers do with regard to background checks and inquiries in relation to the following:
(a) Criminal records?
As of February 4 2018 all employees applying for employment residence visas must obtain a Good Conduct Certificate (or No Criminal Record certificate, or similar) from every country in which they have resided in the last five years, at the time of work permit application.
(b) Medical history?
As a pre-condition to the issuance of a UAE residency visa (and as part of the general visa sponsorship application process), all expatriates must undergo a medical test at a local government-approved medical testing 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.
An employer may ask a candidate to undergo additional medical tests at a clinic or hospital of the employer’s choosing and at the expense of the employer. The employer may make employment conditional on the candidate passing these tests.
(c) Drug screening?
There are no general restrictions in Federal Law 8/1980, as amended, regarding employer screening for drugs or the implementation of drug testing measures as part of the pre-employment stage. The United Arab Emirates adopts a zero-tolerance approach to the possession and misuse of narcotic drugs. In practice, such pre-employment checks are rare.
(d) Credit checks?
In November 2014 the Central Bank established the Al Ittihad Credit Bureau to check the creditworthiness of individuals. Timelines for credit check reports vary depending on the bank.
(e) Immigration status?
Expatriate employees require a UAE work permit and residency visa issued through a locally licensed and registered entity to lawfully reside and work in the United Arab Emirates. The Emirates ID Authority will also issue a unified identification card, which residents should carry at all times.
(f) Social media?
There are a number of laws in place (eg, the Penal Code and the Cybercrimes Law) that establish an overarching framework for protecting privacy and punishing the misuse of information or data breaches. However, depending on a candidate’s user privacy settings, certain information may be publicly available. It is common for employers to utilise professional social media sites, such as 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 for expatriate employees. However, UAE nationals are subject to certain specific salary thresholds and requirements. If a UAE national has no high school certificate, his or her salary should be no less than Dh3,000 per month. High school graduates must earn a minimum of Dh4,000 per month and UAE nationals with a college certificate or more must earn a minimum of Dh5,000 per month.
Are there restrictions on working hours?
Normal working hours must not exceed eight hours per day and:
- 48 hours per week over a six-day working week; or
- 40 hours per week over a five-day working week.
This daily cap can be increased to nine hours per day for certain industries (eg, hotels and security services) or as directed by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. Senior employees are exempt from the working hours provisions, including the overtime provisions. However, such categories of personnel are narrowly defined in the applicable ministerial order (see below).
During Ramadan, the standard normal working hours are reduced by two hours (with no corresponding reduction in pay).
Hours and overtime
What are the requirements for meal and rest breaks?
Employees cannot work more than five consecutive hours without taking a break of at least one hour for rest, food and prayer. This time does not constitute a working hour. There are limited exceptions to these requirements.
How should overtime be calculated?
Overtime cannot exceed more than two hours per day, unless the work is necessary to prevent or alleviate a substantial loss or a serious accident. Overtime is payable at statutory rates, depending on when the overtime work is performed. In general, the rate is 125% of the normal hourly rate. However, if the employee works between 9:00pm and 4:00am, the rate is 150% of the normal hourly rate. For Friday working (which is generally designated as a statutory day off), an employer must offer:
- a compensatory day off work; or
- basic salary for hours worked and additional compensation equal to 50% of that salary.
Unless an employee is paid daily, he or she cannot be required to work for more than two consecutive Fridays per month.
What exemptions are there from overtime?
Employees cannot opt out of the working time and overtime restrictions. However, the restrictions do not apply to:
- senior employees occupying managerial or supervisory roles, if their roles gives them authority over other employees; and
- naval crew and seamen working under special conditions because of the nature of their work (excluding dock workers and persons that load and unload ships and perform similar operations).
These exclusions do not apply to work performed on a public holiday where employees are entitled to time off and/or overtime pay.
According to the applicable ministerial order, the above senior employees are expressly defined as including the chair of the board of directors, general and departmental managers and employees with supervisory functions acting with the employer’s authority.
Is there a minimum paid holiday entitlement?
In the first year of employment, an employee is entitled to no fewer than two days’ paid leave between his or her sixth and 12th month of service. Thereafter, an employee is entitled to 30 calendar days’ paid leave. In practice, employers generally offer the 30-calendar day entitlement (or the working day equivalent) from commencement and on a pro-rata basis.
What are the rules applicable to final pay and deductions from wages?
On the termination of an employment contract, employers can deduct any amounts owed by the employee to the employer from his or her statutory end of service gratuity payment.
During employment, employees can recover advances or overpayments of salary of up to 10% of the employee’s gross monthly salary.
What payroll and payment records must be maintained?
All employers with five or more employees must keep a personal file for each employee, detailing:
- place of residence;
- marital status;
- start date;
- pay rate and any changes to this rate;
- annual leave entitlements;
- any disciplinary penalties imposed;
- any occupational injuries and diseases suffered; and
- the date of and reasons for the employment contract’s termination.
Employers with 15 or more employees must keep at their place of business separate registers recording details of employees' wages and occupational injuries and diseases.
It is generally recommended that employers keep records for at least two years after the termination of an employment contract.
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