The Abu Dhabi Labour Court on Sunday warned private sector employers in the UAE to strictly follow the new employment rules that came into force on February 2.
The court held a virtual session for employers to make sure they were fully conversant with their rights and responsibilities and that a lack of knowledge could not be an excuse to break the law.
He said the legal literacy programme was based on the cases that were brought before the court and it was important that employers were aware of the issues involving the law.
The new law helps to create an attractive environment for investors and skilled labour, Judge Alshateri said. It improves the efficiency and sustainability of the labour market in the country, he said, and that it was important that a balance was achieved to protect both parties.
The new labour law at a glance
- People can opt for temporary and flexible work, freelance jobs, condensed working hours and shared jobs. This should be agreed with the employer.
- Discrimination on the basis of race, colour, gender, religion, nationality, social origin, or disability is prohibited.
- Employers cannot withhold employees’ documents, such as passports, and they cannot charge workers recruitment fees.
- Employment contracts can last as long as three years and any indefinite contracts must be changed to fixed-term contracts that can be renewed.
- Probation period should not be more than six months. A two-week notice must be given if an employee is terminated during this time. Employees who want to change jobs during the probation period must give a month’s notice and a 14-day notice if they want to leave the country.
- Employers may not force workers to leave the country after the end of the work relationship or the termination of a work contract. Instead, workers will be allowed to move to another employer and there are plans to allow people up to 180 days to find a job without overstaying their visa.
- No more than two hours of overtime are allowed in one day, under the new law.
- Should the nature of the job require more than two extra hours in a day, employees must receive an overtime wage that is 25% more than their regular hourly pay.
- All employees are entitled to a paid rest day with the option of more depending on the contract.
- The new law brings in the possibility of a “non-compete” clause being written into a contract.
- An employer is now allowed to stop an employee from competing against them or to participate in a competing project in the same sector. This is on the basis that the employee’s job has allowed them access to privileged information.