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The New Labor Law - Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021 regulating labor relations

His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the State, may God protect him, issued a Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 regulating labor relations, as its provisions shall apply as of February 2, 2022, on all establishments, employers and workers in the private sector in the country. The Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 regulating labor relations shall be enforced as of the effective date of the decree-law.

Below we summarize the main points of the decree-law:

Article (2) Objectives of The Law:

1.Ensure the efficiency of the labor market in the UAE, which contributes to the attracting and retaining the best future talents and skills, provides an attractive business environment for Employers, and helps both parties to pursue the UAE’s national development goals.

2.Regulate the labor relations and determine the respective rights and obligations of the parties to this legal relationship in a balanced way.

3.Enhance flexibility and sustainability of the UAE’s labor market by ensuring the protection of the parties to the development of an exceptional circumstances encountered by the working relationship that would have an impact thereon.

4.Support the rehabilitate capacities and skills of Workers in the Private Sector, in such a way as to promote manpower’s efficiency and productivity in the UAE’s labor market.

5.Provide protection for both parties to the working relationship and enable them to obtain their rights within this Decree-Law.

Article (3) Scope of Application:

The second paragraph of Article No. 3 clarifies the categories that are not subject to the provisions of this Decree-Law. The Paragraph D has been removed, which states that Workers who work in agriculture or pastures, except for people who work in agricultural establishments that manufacture their products or who permanently operating or repairing mechanical machinery needed for agriculture.

Article (4) Equality and Non-Discrimination:

The law includes a new article on equality and non-discrimination, i.e., Article No. 4, in which it states in brief that discrimination based on race, color, sex, or religion is prohibited, and that equal opportunities must be given to everyone. as Additionally, it emphasized the equality between women and men in terms of pay.

Article (7) Models of Work:

The models of work stipulated by the law in Article 7, are as follows:

1.Full time.

2.Part-time Work.

3.Temporary Work.

4.Flexible Work.

5.Any other models specified by the Executive Regulations of this Decree-Law.

Article (8) Employment Contract:

Unlimited contracts are quashed, replacing it with fixed-term contracts and for a period not exceeding (3) years.

Article (9) Probationary Period:

A notice period for the employer to terminate the worker's service during the probation period is 14 days. The notice of termination must be in writing

In the event that the worker wishes to move to another job during the probationary period, he must notify the original employer in writing for a period of no less than one month from the date of his desire to terminate the contract, provided that the new employer is obligated to compensate the original employer with the costs of recruitment or contracting with the worker unless otherwise agreed upon.

Article (10) Non-Competition:

The decree-law mentioned in the first and second paragraphs of this article includes the details of the non-competition and expiry clause, which are as follows:

1.Where the Worker performs a Work which gives him access to Employer’s customers or business secrets, the Employer may make a provision in the Employment Contract that the Worker shall not compete with or be engaged in any business which competes with him in the same Sector after the expiry of the Contract. Such clause shall specify the place, time, and type of Work to the extent necessary to protect the legitimate business interests. The non-competition period shall not exceed (2) two years after the expiration of the Contract.

2.This clause shall be void in the case of termination of the Employment Contract by the Employer in violation of the provisions hereof.

Article (11) Entrusting Certain Employer’s Works to Another Party:

If an Employer entrusts another Employer with the performance of any of his basic works, or any part thereof, the latter shall be solely liable for all entitlements of Workers engaged in such entrusted work in accordance with the provisions of this Decree-Law, unless agreed otherwise by the parties

Article (13) Obligations of Employer:

A new clause has been added about the training of Workers, the development of their skills and their rehabilitation.

Article (14) Forced Labor Prohibited; Other Prohibitions:

Prohibition of forced labor, sexual harassment, bullying and any violence against the worker.

Article (30) Maternity Leave:

The maternity leave for pregnant women has been increased from (45) days to (60) days.

The first (45) days will be fully paid.

And the next (15) days will be half paid.

Article (32) Other Leaves:

1.A Worker shall be entitled to paid leave in the following cases:

a. (5) five days bereavement leave for death of the spouse, (3) three days bereavement leave for death of a parent, child, sibling, grandchild, or grandparent, commencing from the date of death.

b. Paternal leave for (5) five Working Days for the Worker (father or mother) who got a child, in order to take care of his child. Such leave shall be taken successively or otherwise during the period of (6) six months following the date of birth of the child.

2. A Worker Affiliated with or attending an educational institution in the UAE may be granted a study leave for (10) ten Working Days per year in order to sit examinations, provided that he has completed at least (2) two years of service with his Employer.

Article (33) Unpaid Leave:

1.The Worker may, after the consent of the Employer, take an unpaid leave, other than the leaves referred to herein.

Leave referred to in the paragraph above shall not be counted in the period of service of the Worker with the Employer and within the Pension System according to the relevant legislation in force

Article (35) Commencement of Notice Period in Case of Termination of Contract During Leave:

In the event of termination of the work contract during the period of leave, the period of validity of the Notice shall start from the day following the scheduled return of the worker from the leave.

Article (37) Compensation for Work Injuries and Occupational Diseases:

The value of compensation or the maximum limit for compensation has been increased. Previously, the law indicated that the compensation would be not less than 18,000 dirhams or not more than 35,000 dirhams. In the new law, the value of compensation became no less than 18,000 dirhams and not more than 200,000 dirhams.

Article (39) Disciplinary Sanctions:

Some new elements have been added:

•Written attention draw.

•Suspension of work for 14 days and non-payment of suspension days.

Article (41) Certain Controls for Imposing Disciplinary Sanctions:

Only one disciplinary sanction may be imposed in respect of one violation.

Article (43) Notice of Termination of Employment Contract:

The Notice Period should not be less than (30) thirty days and not in excess of (90) ninety days.

Article (44) Dismissal of Worker Without Prior Notice (Similar to Article 120 of the old law):

Two new conditions have been added to the article:

9. If the Worker abuses his position with the aim to obtain personal gains and profits.

10. If the Worker joins another Establishment without complying with the controls and procedures prescribed in this regard.

Article (45) Leaving Work Without Notice (Similar to Article 121 of the old law):

Two new conditions have been added to the article:

3. If the Workplace poses a severe threat to the safety or health of the Worker, provided that the Employer is aware thereof, and has not taken the actions necessary to eliminate such threat.

4. If the Employer entrusts the Worker with a Work that is substantially different from the Work agreed upon in the Employment Contract, without the written consent of the Worker, except in cases stated in Article (12) hereof.

Article (50) Unauthorized Absence from Work:

1.A foreign Worker who absents from Work, for illegal cause, before the expiration of the Employment Contract, shall not be granted another Work Permit to join another Employer in the UAE, pursuant to the provisions hereof, for a term of (1) one year from the date of absence from Work, and no Employer who is aware of such absence may use employ him or keep him in his service within such period.

Article (51) Severance Pay for Full-Time Workers:

(21) twenty-one Working Days’ wage for each of the first five years of service.

(30) thirty Working Days’ wage for each subsequent year of service.

Article (55) Exemption from Judicial Fees:

In the old law, the worker was permanently exempted from judicial fees, regardless of the value of the case. In the new law, this was changed, and the worker became exempt from judicial fees in cases whose value does not exceed 100,000 dirhams.

Article (68) Adjustment of positions:

2. Employers shall, within (1) one year from the date the Decree Law comes into force, adjust their respective positions and change unlimited Employment Contracts to limited Contracts, in accordance with the conditions, controls and procedures set forth herein. Such period may be extended by the Minister for other periods, as dictated by the public interest.


Article (59)

Shall be sentenced to a fine of no less than AED 20,000 (Twenty Thousand Dirhams) and no more than AED 100,000 (One Hundred Thousand Dirhams), whoever:

1.Provides false information or document with the intent to bring a foreigner to the UAE for employment.

2.Obstructs or prevents any employee entrusted with the implementation of the provisions of this Decree-Law and its Executive Regulations and implementing resolutions or attempts or tries to prevent him from the discharge of his duties whether by force, violence, or threat.

3.Discloses any business secret acquired by him in the course of his Work as public official entrusted with the implementation of the provisions of this Decree-Law and its Executive Regulations and Implementing resolutions, even if he leaves the Work.

Article (60)

Shall be sentenced to a fine of no less than AED 50,000 (Fifty Thousand Dirhams) and no more than AED 200,000 (Two Hundred Thousand Dirhams), whoever:

1.Employs a Worker who has not obtained a permit to work for him.

2.Recruits or employs a Worker and leaves him without a Work.

3.Uses Work Permits for purposes other than those for which they are issued.

4.Closes or ceases the activity of an Establishment without taking the procedures for the settlement of Workers’ entitlements in violation of the provisions of the Decree-Law its Executive Regulations and implementing resolutions.

5.Employs a Juvenile in violation of the provisions hereof.

Article (61)

Shall be punished by imprisonment for a period of no less than one year and a fine of no less than 200,000 dirhams and not more than 1,000,000 dirhams, or either of these two penalties, whoever exploits or misuses the electronic powers granted to him to enter the Ministry's systems or enables others to do so, which has resulted in a disruption in procedures or labor relations.

Article (62)

Shall be sentenced to a fine of no less than AED 5,000 (Five Thousand Dirhams) and no more than AED 1,000,000 (One Million Dirhams), whoever violates any of the provisions of this Decree-Law and its Executive Regulations and implementing resolutions.

Article (63)

Shall be sentenced to a fine of no less than AED 5,000 (Five Thousand Dirhams) and no more than AED 1,000,000 (One Million Dirhams), whoever violates any of the provisions of this Decree-Law and its Executive Regulations and implementing resolutions.


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