UAE Labor Law

The United Arab Emirates ushered in a new era in labor regulations with the implementation of the UAE New Labor Law on February 2, 2022. This comprehensive update, encapsulated in Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021, replaces the long-standing Federal Law No. 8 of 1980. Let’s explore the key amendments and nuances of this transformative legislation, offering insights into its impact on both employers and employees.

A Modernized Approach to Employment Contracts:

One of the significant shifts introduced by the new labor law is the emphasis on fixed-term contracts. Unlimited contracts are no longer applicable, necessitating that all employees be placed on limited or fixed-term contracts for a minimum period of 3 years. Employers have until February 2023 to transition existing employees to fixed-term contracts, ensuring alignment with the updated legal framework.

Probation Period and Notice Requirements:

The probationary period for employees remains unchanged at 6 months. However, the new law mandates that employers provide written notice 14 days in advance of terminating an employee’s contract during the probationary period. Similarly, employees resigning during probation must provide one month’s notice before joining another UAE-based company or 14 days’ notice if leaving the UAE entirely.

Flexibility in Work Arrangements:

The UAE New Labor Law introduces flexibility in work arrangements, allowing employees and employers to agree on rest days. Overtime is capped at 144 hours over a 3-week period and is calculated based on the basic salary. Additionally, accrued annual leave must be utilized within one calendar year or as mutually agreed upon, with payment for unused leave based on the employee’s final basic salary.

Enhanced Leave Entitlements:

Maternity leave provisions have been expanded, granting mothers 60 days of leave, with 45 days fully paid and 15 days at half pay. Additional leave is provided in cases of miscarriage, stillbirth, or the birth of a disabled child. Study leave of up to 10 days per year is available to employees with over 2 years of service, although the payment status of these leaves remains unspecified.

Clearer Guidelines for Termination and Discipline:

The new law stipulates extended notice periods for contract termination, ranging from 30 to 90 days based on the employee’s length of service. Employers are also provided with disciplinary penalties to address workplace violations, with provisions for legal notices, salary increment deprivation, and termination with gratuity entitlement.

Introduction of Unemployment Insurance Scheme:

A noteworthy addition to the UAE’s labor landscape is the introduction of an unemployment insurance scheme, offering financial support to employees until they secure new employment. This scheme aims to provide up to AED 20,000 in cash benefits to eligible individuals, bolstering the safety net for those navigating periods of job transition.


The UAE New Labor Law represents a significant milestone in the country’s journey toward modernizing employment regulations and fostering equitable workplace practices. By embracing these amendments, employers and employees can navigate the evolving labor landscape with confidence, ensuring compliance with updated legal standards while fostering harmonious and productive work environments.

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