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Labour Contract in the UAE: What You Need to Know

Jul 1, 2022 | Legal

If you’ve committed to a labour contract in the UAE, or you might apply to one soon, know that recent legislation could shake up your working life. It is important for your employment contract that you fully understand UAE Labour Law and even how to obtain a labour contract online. This article will tell you all you need to know for you to obtain your UAE labour contract under the UAE Labour Law. You can even obtain your labour contract online.

Early in 2022, the UAE implemented a new collection of labour laws. These are known under the title of UAE Labour Law. These laws repeal and replace Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 from the UAE Ministry of Labour. The new laws, Federal Decree-Law No. 33, govern private-sector employment relationships.

To comply with the new UAE Labour Law, employers and employees must amend existing employment contracts. Employers must also now modify an array of policies and procedures which concern future contracts with new employees.

This guide answers all your questions about labour contracts in the UAE in one coherent document. Read on and learn everything you need to know about legal employment in the United Arab Emirates, as well as the UAE Labour Law.

What Is a Labour Contract in UAE?

A UAE labour contract is an official employer agreement, signed by both an employee and their employer. Once signed, the document legally binds both parties to the terms of the work agreement. From fixed term employment contracts to flexible contracts, these are all governed by the UAE Labour Law.

Labour contracts dictate the nature and scope of an employee’s work. It also typically details timeframes, schedules, and work expectations.

Just as a labour contract binds the employee, it also binds the employer. The employer must dispense any benefits owed as detailed in the contract. You can obtain these labour contracts online.

UAE labour contract law enables a few different types of employment contracts. The important categories of UAE labour contract to understand are:

  • Limited (fixed term employment contracts)
  • Unlimited (flexible)
  • Part-time
  • Full-time
  • Temporary
  • Special employment
  • Job-sharing

It’s vital to understand how each of these contract types may impact your lawful employment in UAE. It is vital for your business that you fully understand the UAW Labour Law.

Business owners reviewing contracts

Limited Contracts (Fixed Term Employment Contracts) vs. Unlimited Term Contracts (Flexible Contracts)

Limited and unlimited labour contracts differ in three key ways. Each contract type incorporates different:

  • Legal obligations
  • Protections
  • Termination proceedings

Different sectors of work attract different contract types. You can apply for these types of labour contracts online through the MoHRE website or app.

UAE Fixed Term Employment Contracts (Limited)

Fixed term employment contracts are ideal when an organization needs employees for a specific project.

The organization should predict the chronological duration of the project. Then, it should set the terms of the contract with the project’s presumed start date and end date.

A limited contract, or fixed-term contract, compels the employee to work for a set number of years. It also obligates the employer to compensate for the work in the same timeframe.

These contracts declare the start date and end date of the employment periods. Unless both parties formally renew the contract, the contract expires at the end date. At that point, work and compensation will both cease.

Per recent legal reforms, a fixed-term contract can set obligations for up to three years. This is a change from previous legal limits, which had different time periods.

Under Federal Decree-Law No. 33 (UAE Labour Law), limited contracts are now mandatory. Employers must transition all employees to fixed-term contracts by February 2023.

To learn about notice period obligations in a fixed-term contract, see the subheading, “Contract Termination Requirements” under the heading, “What Does a Labour Contract Require Under Federal Decree-Law No. 33?”

You can apply for fixed term labour contracts online through the MoHRE website or app.

UAE Flexible Contract (Unlimited)

Under new UAE Labour Law, unlimited term contracts, or flexible contracts, do not have set end dates. Instead, the contract only ends when both parties mutually consent to contract termination.

There are certain exceptions. Either party may terminate a contract without the other party’s consent given unique circumstances.

An employee may voluntarily terminate the contract without the employer’s consent, so long as the employee gives the employer prior notice. The minimum mandatory notice period will be outlined in the contract.

Under new UAE Labour Law, legally termination notice must be at least 30 days.

If the employee does not give the employer notice, the employee may owe the employer up to 30 days’ wages.

The employer must give an employee 30 days’ notice prior to terminating an unlimited contract. An employer is exempt from this legal obligation, and may terminate immediately, in the following circumstances:

  • If the employee submits forged documents
  • If the employee presents their identity fraudulently
  • If the employer dismisses the employee during a probationary period
  • If the employee violates verbal safety instructions or signage
  • If the employee continually fails to perform basic duties (pending intervention and employer warning)
  • If the employee violates non-disclosure agreements
  • If the employee is found in court guilty of dishonour, dishonesty, or committing an offence against public morals
  • If the employee is intoxicated or inebriated during work hours
  • If the employee commits assault at the workplace, or during the course of their work
  • If they are absent from work without lawful excuse

If an employer terminates an employee’s contract without justification, the employer is legally obligated to pay 30-90 days’ wages to compensate for the short notice.

Both parties may mutually consent to a shorter or longer notice period than the one described in the contract. You can apply for flexible labour contracts online through the MoHRE website or app.

Arab businessman signing contract with female entrepreneur-2

Part-Time vs. Full-Time vs. Temporary Contract in the UAE

The UAE Labour Law categorizes labour contracts as full-time, part-time, or temporary.

A full-time contract obligates an employee to labour for a single employer for 48 hours per week. Typically, this requires six 8-hour workdays.

part-time contract is still between a single employer and a single employee. But, the employee is obligated to work fewer than 48 hours per week.

A temporary contract is a contract specifically for a 90-day probationary period. This contract sets the rights and obligations of both the employee and employer for the first 90 days of work.

After this temporary period, the employer will typically extend work with a part-time or full-time contract.

Employees under a part-time contract do not need their employer’s permission to take another part-time contract from a different employer.

However, any employee who wishes to work part-time for multiple employers must obtain a permit from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE).

Full-Time Hours and Overtime Obligations

In most industries in the UAE, it is not legal to impose a workday longer than eight hours under UAE Labour Law. In the hospitality industry, a 9-hour workday is lawful. However, the workweek cannot be longer than 60 hours for any single employee.

Overtime rates are applicable if an employee works over 48 hours.

These rates are typically the employee’s hourly rate, plus 25%. Overtime worked from the hours of 9:00 pm to 4:00 am must be compensated at the employee’s hourly rate, plus 50%.

Employees who work on their scheduled rest day are owed a substitute rest day. Alternatively, employers must pay employees working on their contractual rest days 150% of the employee’s typical wages.

Special Employment Contract

Public sector companies may offer an employee a special employment contract. This contract appoints employees to a high post at an organization.

The minister must make special contract appointments. Contracts are extended for two years at most.

Job Sharing Contract

Job-sharing contracts are a newer invention. These contracts enable an employer to split a full-time role among multiple employees. All employees working the same role are obligated with part-time contracts.

The part-time contracts stipulate how the job’s tasks and work hours must be divided among employees.

Employee reading a labour contract

What Does a UAE Labour Contract Require Under Federal Decree-Law No. 33?

Federal Decree-Law No. 33 stipulates several changes to UAE employment contracts. These changes alter the rights and obligations of both employees and employers in a work agreement.

Most changes grant employees more rights. They also offer employers more flexibility in some respects.

UAE Fixed-Term Contract Requirements

The new law codifies and mandates a switch to fixed-term employment contracts for all employees. HR professionals are most responsible for communicating this change.

Employers have until February 2023 to transition their workforces to fixed-term employment.

UAE Employment Contract Probationary Period, Notice Requirements

An employer may place an employee on probation for poor performance for a period of up to six months (but for no longer). The employer may also require an initial probational period for new hires.

If an employer decides to terminate an employee on probation, the employer must give the employee at least 14 days’ notice.

Likewise, the employee on probation must give the employer at least 14 days’ notice if the employee intends to leave the UAE. But, an employee must give 30 days’ notice if they wish to sign on with a different UAE employer.

Flexible Arrangement Contracts

The new law legitimizes flexible arrangement contracts.

Flexible arrangement contracts may allow employees to choose the times they work. Or, an employer may request that an employee maintain different work schedules on different weeks throughout the year.

In either case, an employee’s hours are not consistent. That said, the employer must still abide by workload limits and overtime laws.

Non-Compete Restrictions

Employers may legally include non-compete restrictions in a labour contract. But, employers may not prohibit part-time employees from seeking additional work from other, non-competing employers.

Employees who work for multiple employees must obtain a permit from MoHRE.

Rest Day Agreements

Employers must legally implement a rest day every week for all employees. But, they are no longer legally obligated to appoint Friday as the rest day.

Employers must offer compensation for employees who work on their rest days. The compensation may be overtime pay or a substitute rest day.

Currency Agreements

Both employers and employees may consent to payment in any currency. However, the Wages Protection System cannot handle currencies other than UAE Dirham.

So, employers using WPS must convert payments into that currency first.

Leave Entitlements

Employees who accrue leave must use it within the year they earn it. If they do not use the leave, they may be entitled to encashment by the end of the year.

Employees have a right to accrue leave at a rate of two days per month for the first six months. They have a legal right to 30 days of leave if they’ve worked for an employer for one year. The law also discerns unique leave categories:

  • Maternity leave
  • Compassionate leave
  • Study leave

Employees are entitled to 45 days of maternity leave at full pay, and 15 days of maternity leave at half pay. If an employee gives birth to a sick or disabled baby, they have the right to an additional 30 days of leave at full pay.

Employees are entitled to 3-5 days of paid leave if they experience a death in their immediate family.

Employees have a right to ten days of study leave at an approved UAE educational institution. But, employees must work for an employer for at least two years to take advantage of study leave. Study leave may be unpaid.

Contract Termination Requirements

Employers can terminate a fixed-term contract for just cause or over redundancy. Employers are obligated to give employees notice of impending termination.

For instance, if an employee:

  • Has worked for an employer for five years or less, he is entitled to 30 days’ notice, minimum.
  • Was employed for 5-10 years, he is entitled to at least 60 days’ notice.
  • Has worked for an employer for over ten years, he is entitled to 90 days’ notice.

Grounds for termination of a fixed-term contract are identical to the grounds for termination of an unlimited contract. If an employer accuses an employee of misconduct, they can legally suspend an employee for up to thirty days.

During the suspension, the employer must pay the employee half-pay, and the employer must investigate. If the employee is found not guilty, he has a right to reimbursement for the duration of his leave.

Employers must pay termination entitlements within 14 days.

End-of-Service Gratuity

The new law changes the end-of-service gratuity system. Now, all employees are entitled to full end-of-service gratuity.

But, employees must work for an employer for at least one year to earn the right to gratuity.

Workplace Policy Requirements

The new law obligates employers to uphold certain workplace policy tenants. These include:

  • Non-discrimination against protected classes
  • Equal pay per gender
  • Prohibition against physical, verbal, and sexual harassment
  • Provision of an employee handbook
  • Maintain employment records up to two years post-termination

Abu Dhabi Corniche

Exceptions to Labour Contract Laws in UAE

There are a few exceptions to the new labour contract regulations in the UAE.

First, the new contract law does not apply to the Dubai International Finance Center. Second, the new UAE labour law does not apply to the Abu Dhabi Global Market.

These organizations are subject to unique labour laws, instead of the laws that detail labour rights in other sectors.

How Can I Check My UAE Labour Contract?

There are different ways to ask this question. Some people ask, “How can I get a copy of my labour contract in UAE?” or, “How do I get a copy of my labour contracts online?/ How do I get a copy of my labour contract online?”

Fortunately, it’s quite simple to find out about any detail of your labour contract. You can check your UAE labour contract via MoHRE, or you can access the system through the MoHRE app.

Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE)

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) can be found online here. This site offers information and resources. It helps you to check your labour contracts online. You can also check existing employment contracts.

All workforces in the UAE can check a labour contract online. After the Ministry of Labour has issued the contract, it’s always accessible either via your smartphone on the app or online.

Under the “Services” tab, you can select “Job Offer and Contract Services.”

MoHRE Online

On the “Job Offers and Contract Services” page, you will see the “My Contracts” form. Search for your contract by using your transaction number. MoHRE allows you to look at your labour contracts online.

If you don’t have your transaction number, you can also use your personal details to search.

You should be able to follow the directions on the site at this point to find your contract.

The website chat features, along with calling a representative on 600590000 are simple ways to get more help if needed.


You can also use the MoHRE app instead of the website. The MoHRE app allows your to check labour contracts online as well as existing employment contracts.

Download the MoHRE app from the Google Play Store or App Store. Install the app and sign up. Then, follow the instructions on the screen to register as an employee.

Once you’ve registered, log in. Then, go to your dashboard by clicking “My Dashboard.” Then, scroll down until you see “View Labour Contract.”

From this page, you can download a copy of the labour contract.

How Can I Get a Labour Contract?

If you’re wondering how to get a labour contract as an expatriate, follow these instructions. The UAE has published this page to instruct people on how to get a labour contract.

At the end of that page, the UAE provides a link to instructions to apply for a work visa.

If you want to get a labour contract for multiple jobs, you can. But, you must apply for a part-time work permit. The 1-year permit costs Dhs600.

Learn more about the application process from the MoHRE.

Ready to Start Work in the UAE?

If you’re looking to work in the UAE or launch a business in the region, it’s critical to stay legal. Virtuzone can help.

At Virtuzone, we empower employers and businesses to thrive in the UAE. Whether you need precise labour contract guidance or essential business services, we tailor our solutions to suit your needs.

Contact us for a free consultation, and we’ll discover together what you can do to succeed.

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