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United Arab Emirates: Employee rights

Original and updating author: Samir Kantaria, Al Tamimi & Company

See the legal services provided by the author of XpertHR International > United Arab Emirates, including any discounts/offers for subscribers.


  • Employers were required to implement measures introduced by the Government to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. (See Coronavirus - emergency measures)
  • The working hours of employees must not exceed 48 per week. (See Hours of work)
  • Employees must not carry out work for more than a specified number of hours without a rest/prayer break or breaks. (See Rest breaks and rest periods)
  • Eligible employees are entitled to paid annual leave. (See Holiday and holiday pay)
  • Female employees are entitled to maternity leave. (See Maternity and pregnancy rights)
  • In the UAE, male and female employees are entitled to parental leave. In the DIFC and ADGM, working fathers of a newborn child are entitled to paternity leave. (See Parental and paternity leave)
  • UAE nationals who are undertaking military service are entitled to be paid as normal during their service. (See National military service)
  • There is a right to unpaid pilgrimage leave in certain circumstances. (See Pilgrimage leave)
  • Some part-time employees have the same statutory entitlements as full-time employees, while others' rights are pro rated. (See Part-time workers)
  • Specific authorisation for the engagement of agency workers must be sought via the relevant public authorities prior to engagement. (See Temporary agency workers)
  • In the event of the transfer of a business anywhere in the UAE (including the DIFC and ADGM), there is no automatic transfer of the employment contracts of the employees of the transferred business. (See Transfers of undertakings)
  • In the UAE generally, statute specifies the disciplinary penalties that an employer may impose on employees, while in the DIFC and ADGM employment legislation does not expressly deal with disciplinary procedures or sanctions. (See Disciplinary and grievance procedures)
  • The UAE has introduced specific data protection legislation, with which employers must comply following an implementation period. The DIFC and the ADGM have detailed data protection legislation in force. (See Data and privacy protection)