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United Arab Emirates: Employee rights

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

Consultant editor: Luke Tapp, Pinsent Masons

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


  • Employers are 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 five consecutive hours (or more than six hours per day in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM)) without a rest/prayer break or breaks of at least one hour in total. (See Rest breaks and rest periods)
  • While in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) generally, employees' statutory weekly rest day must normally fall on the holy day of Friday, there is no such requirement in the DIFC and ADGM. (See Friday work)
  • Eligible employees are entitled to paid annual leave. (See Holiday and holiday pay)
  • Female employees are entitled to 45 calendar days (or a minimum of 65 working days in the DIFC and ADGM) of maternity leave. (See Maternity and pregnancy rights)
  • In the UAE, male and female employees are entitled to five days of "paternal leave" to be taken from the date of the child's birth to when the child is six months old. In the DIFC and ADGM, working fathers of a newborn child are entitled to five days of paternity leave. (See Paternity leave)
  • UAE nationals who are undertaking military service are entitled to be paid as normal during their service and to return to their previous position when their service ends. (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)
  • Fixed-term contracts are permitted. (See Fixed-term 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, other than providing that employment contracts must state any disciplinary rules and/or grievance procedures applicable to the employee. (See Disciplinary procedures)
  • The DIFC and the ADGM have detailed data protection legislation, while there is no general data protection legislation in the UAE generally at present. (See Data and privacy protection)