Most employees working in the UAE are not familiar with the laws governing that employment and the significant differences that will exist from their home country. This is particularly evident in the case of termination of an employee.
All matters relating to employment relations in the private sector are governed by Federal law No 8, 1980. When looking to hire someone, the employer has to follow specific procedures including obtaining a residence visa for the employee.
All expats that reside in the UAE and are hired by a company (license holder) on residence visa will also need to obtain a labor card.
The application of labor law generally favors the employee in the event of a dispute. This essentially means that any contractual provisions made by the employer (side contracts, local contracts for example) other than the UAE law will not be considered and the law of the land would prevail, unless those provisions were in the favor of the employee. Common examples of additional contractual provisions that are often contained in side contracts may include, lower gratuity, extended probation periods (more than six months) or notice periods other than between 1 and 3 months.
In general, there are 7 specific rights of labor that must be adhered to:
1- Annual leave – entitled 2 days leave for every month after finishing probation period
2- An air ticket to home country
3- Salary to be paid for full notice period
4- Over time should be paid (over and above the limits of UAE labor law)
5- All earned salary must be paid up to date
6- Compensation to be given for unfair termination
7- Gratuity to be paid at the end of service (unless specific reason for termination under article 120, gross misconduct)
Important: There can be other additional rights as well but employees will only be entitled to the above rights if they complete their probation period as agreed.