Everything You Need to Know About Employment in the UAE

Employment in UAE

About 90% of Dubai’s populace is made up of foreign nationals from all over the world, working in a variety of business sectors including professional services, manufacturing, retail, and construction. Most of these overseas workers are drawn to Dubai due to the higher compensations and excellent employment opportunities offered in the city. However, many migrants remain completely unaware of their legal rights and the requirements incumbent upon them as a result of their new occupations.

At Abdulhakim Binherz, our lawyers in Dubai provide specialist expertise and support in the field of employment law.  From wrongful terminations to workplace injuries and contract arrangements, we offer focused guidance to both local and foreign workers on a range of employment issues.

Based on that extensive experience, we’ve compiled this brief overview of employment laws in Dubai.

Labour Laws

Labour laws in Dubai are governed by UAE Law No. 8, first introduced in 1980 and amended in 1986. This law sets out clear guidelines for employee protection against a variety of work-related concerns such as:

  • Working hours
  • Sick days, as well as casual and annual leaves
  • Terminations
  • Medical benefits
  • Repatriation

Useful Article: UAE Labour Law: Know Your Rights

Working Hours

Article 65 of UAE Law no. 8 sets out clear guidelines for hours worked. These laws stipulate that workers in the private sector should be required to work no more than 8 hours per day, while those employed in leisure and tourism-based industries are required to work no more than 9. During Ramadan, work timings are generally reduced by 2 hours. Working hours are calculated exclusive of commuting times and any breaks for rest, food or prayer.

If the nature of your job necessitates overtime payments, these should be paid at 1.25 times the regular hourly rate, based on unscheduled hours worked.  If overtime falls between the hours of 9:00 pm to 4:00 am then this should be paid at a rate of 1.50% over standard. If workers are required to work on Fridays then compensation should be made at an hourly rate of 1.50% over standard as well.

As always, the representatives at our lawyers in dubai can help you understand the specific working requirements for your position and industry.



The official weekend for public sector firms was changed in September 2006 from Thursday/Friday to Friday/Saturday to bring Dubai closer in line with international markets. According to Federal Labour Laws, only Friday is considered to be an official day off in the private sector.

Sick Leaves

If you’ve been continuously employed by your company for more than 3 months following the probationary period, you’re entitled to 90 days of sick leave. The first 15 days of this leave should be paid in full, the following thirty should be paid at a halved rate, and the final 45 days will be unpaid.

If you have to resign within the first 45 days of your illness due to the severity of the medical concern, you’re entitled to resign with full payment of pending wages. Employers may only terminate their employees if they’re unable to report back to work after the exhaustion of their prescribed sick leaves.

Maternity Leaves

Maternity leave allowance in the private sector is 45 days for any employee that has offered her organization one year of continuous service. Female employees may be entitled to a further 55 days of leaves pending appropriate medical reports if they’re unable to return to work as a result of childbirth related illness.

Hajj Leave

Muslim employees are entitled to 30 days of unpaid leave once during the duration of their employment.

Annual Leaves

Generally, 22 annual leaves are granted during the calendar year in the private sector.


Generally, rules governing employee termination are relatively relaxed in the UAE, with employers allowed to issue terminations provided appropriate notice has been given. Article 120 of UAE’s labour law sets out a list of violations which can result in the termination of limited contract employees. In certain instances, employers may also terminate employees without any given notice. Usually, these situations are a result of gross misconduct, prolonged absence, or fraudulent activity on behalf of the employee.

If you feel your dismissal was unfair, then UAE’s Labour Laws do set out guidelines for instances where terminations can be considered arbitrary. These are detailed in Article 122. In instances where individuals were terminated for reasons unrelated to work, and where employers cannot prove a valid basis for redundancies, employees may be entitled to compensation. If you feel that you’ve been the victim of such a situation, don’t hesitate to talk to our lawyers in Dubai for further assistance and legal support.