UAE Rolls Out New Labour Laws For The New World Post Covid-19
2022 is around the corner! And so is happiness. Yes, you heard that right. Just after a couple of months, when the entire world would be in good spirits of the new year, the UAE will be in it a little more!
The news is out!
The coronavirus pandemic is fading away across the globe, leaving everyone in a safer, extra-conscious world. Covid-19 seems to have permanent effects on the way we live, marry, socialise, move about the world, and of course, work. While some initiatives, taken against the pandemic, snatched away liberties to freely walking out of your houses without a mask or hand sanitizers, the others provided the flexibility of working from the comfort of your homes. Keeping the post-pandemic world and welfare of employees and employers in the private sector both in view, the UAE Government has rewritten labour laws, while Coronavirus is already rewriting the future. The new rules will be effective from February 2, 2022, according to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. You might be curious to know what are new changes in the Labour Laws and how they are beneficial for you. So, without much ado, allow us to shed some light on the fresh guidelines issued in the wake of the pandemic below:
A revolutionary change in the working pattern
The UAE has introduced flexible working models for the post-coronavirus workplace by bringing changes to its labour laws, announced on November 15, 2021. Aiming to regulate labour relations in the private sector, the President of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has issued a new decree with broad changes to empower UAE employees more while safeguarding their rights. The new law is part of the government’s efforts to form a flexible and competitive work environment in the UAE as the nation prepares to embark on its journey towards the next 50 years, states Dr. Abdulrahman al-Awar, UAE Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation in a media briefing. “We aim to create an environment that attracts talents and competencies from all over the world and enhance the future skills of workers, at the same time providing a stimulating and attractive working environment for employers,” he further added.
The law revolves around part-time and temporary work in the private sector, with alterations affecting maternity and paternity leave, hiring teenagers, minimum wages, discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, colour, nationality, gender, religion, or disability, as well as equal pay, among others.
New Labour Law Highlights
According to legal experts the Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 on regulating labour relations, coming into force on February 2, 2022, brings the UAE’s workplace in harmony with the best global practices in terms of taking up cudgels for employee rights and luring talents from the world over to a flexible and modern work environment. Here’s the scoop on the top 10 prime features of new labour law:
1.Paternity, maternity, compassionate & academic leave
As per the new law, new working fathers are eligible for five-day paternity leave to be taken up to six months following the child’s birth concurrently or intermittently.
Newbie mothers who would receive a fully paid 45-day maternity leave now could, under the new law, apply for an additional 15 days leave at half pay. In case they are not prepared to resume the service due to weakness or illness of the new-born even after exhausting the maternity leave, they still qualify to take additional 45 days’ leave without pay to look after themselves. However, to be eligible for the same, they need to provide a medical certificate as a supporting document.
Furthermore, God forbid, if the baby is born with any sort of disability, the mother is entitled to fully-paid leave for 30 days in addition to the basic maternity leave, which can be further extended to 30 days unpaid.
The employee leave model under the new law on the occasion of a death in the family is changed too, depending on the degree of kinship of the deceased. Employees get a five-day mourning leave upon the demise of their spouse, and three days upon the sudden death of a parent, child, sibling, grandchild, or grandparent.
On completion of two years with an employer, employees are eligible for a 10-day study leave if they are enrolled in an accredited institution inside the UAE.
Employees are also entitled to one day paid off, with the possibility of increasing weekly rest days at the discretion of the company.
2. Modified work models
Employees are now eligible to work on a project or hourly basis for one or more employers under the new models developed to make great strides in the post-Covid-19 world.
The law introduces part-time, temporary, or flexible contracts to make the ends meet, apart from the regular full-time scheme.
Part-time work allows employees to work for more than one employer for a specified number of hours or days scheduled for work, while temporary work can be a contract for a specific period or on a project basis that ends with the job’s completion.
The flexible work model offers employees the liberties to work at different times depending on the conditions and requirements of the job, in addition to the full-time work currently prevalent in the labour market. The contract under the new law covers hours, days, and duties needed.
Further models of work will be introduced, including self-employment; condensed working weeks, which enables employees to fulfil their working hours in a specific number of days instead of one week; and the shared-job model, which allows two employees to split the job and pay based on an agreement with the employer.
3. Probation period
The probation period still can’t go beyond six months, but the termination of the employees during probation won’t come as a shocker. Under the new law, employers are required to submit a written 14-day notice before terminating the employee, unlike it was previously when the termination was effective on an immediate basis.
Employees who are planning to change their existing job during probation must render a one-month notice to the current employer. In case, they wish to leave the country within the 6 months of their probation time, submission of a prion 14-day notice is mandatory. Leaving the country sans notice during probation will render employees a one-year ban from obtaining a work permit.
If any of the parties violate these rules, the breaching party must financially compensate the other with a pay equivalent to regular work days of the outstanding notice period.
4. Withdrawal of unlimited contracts
With the new law in effect, employers could issue only limited (fixed-term) contracts, renewable every three years, for the same or lesser period, upon the agreement of both parties.
The removal of unlimited contracts helps merge end-of-service benefits and other entitlements across the nation.
Employers will be granted a one-year grace period, starting from the law’s implementation on 2nd February 2022, to modify and rectify employment contracts to a fixed term.
5. Minimum wage
In a groundbreaking move, the new law is set to define a minimum wage for employees in the private sector. The UAE Cabinet will ascertain the minimum wage following a proposal by MoHRE in coordination with relevant authorities. Previously, the UAE labour law had no minimum wage set beyond broadly mentioning that salaries must take into account the basic needs of employees.
6. Repatriation costs
In the event of a worker’s death, the repatriation costs upon the family’s request will be borne by the employer. They also have to pay the worker’s wages, entitlements, and severance expenses to the family within 10 days of the worker’s death.
7.Right to remain in the country after quitting the job
The employer is forbidden from forcing employees to leave the country after the end of the work relationship or termination of a contract between them. Under the new law, workers can work with a new employer and stay to benefit in the labour market. Employers cannot confiscate the official documents of employees as per the new law
8. Provisions against discrimination & harassment
The new law binds the employer by a policy of non-discrimination in hiring employees on the basis of gender, race, colour, nationality, religion, social origins, or disability.
The law also safeguards employees against any kind of disrespectful conduct such as sexual harassment, bullying, verbal, physical, or emotional abuse by employers, superiors, and colleagues.
Employers shall not use any means of force against employees or threaten to penalize employees for failing to perform an action against their will.
The law significantly states equal pay for women doing the same job, or other work of equal value, as men. However, the value of work is yet to be decided by the cabinet.
9. Women empowerment
It is underlined in the law that all provisions regulating the employment of workers shall apply without discrimination to female employees.
10. Judicial fees relief
After the new law comes into effect, the workers will be exempted from judicial fees at all stages of litigation, enforcement, and petitions filed by them or their heirs with a value limited to AED 100,000.
Additionally, the employer is bound to bear the fees and expenses of recruitment and employment and is prohibited to recover them from the employee by no means.
Win-win for both the parties
Labor laws state the rights and benefits of employees, moreover, it also sets certain conditions such as the required weekly rest, contributions, and the likes. Employees and workers are the most valuable assets of any company. It’s the workforce of your organisation that keeps the business running. And labour laws in any country are to protect the rights of both the employers and employees/workers while forging a peaceful relationship between both the parties. Labor laws state the rights and benefits of employees, moreover, it also sets certain conditions such as the required weekly rest, contributions, and the likes. Thanks to effective labour laws, employers can work hand-in-hand with their employees to create and meet company goals. By treating employees fairly, and protecting their rights, employers can create a positive and enthusiastic workplace, which ultimately works to develop an environment that welcomes success. Therefore, it only makes sense to stay abreast of any updates in labour laws of the country. Being an employer, knowing and abiding by the laws is as crucial for you as it is for your employees/workers, and not knowing the law can never be an excuse when you happen to violate one.
Let’s meet to beat… all the troubles beforehand
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