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New Federal Labour Law Issued in the UAE

Last week, the UAE Cabinet approved a new Labour Law, Federal Law Number 33 of 2021 (the New Labour Law)

Last week, the UAE Cabinet  approved a new Labour Law, Federal Law Number 33 of 2021 (the New Labour Law) which will come into force on 2 February 2022 and repeals Law Number 8 of 1980 (the Old Law); replacing it entirely. The New Labour Law consolidates many of the changes which have been introduced by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MHRE) through various regulations over the past five years and also introduces significant new changes, thus amounting to a radical overhaul of labour relations in the UAE.  It will apply across the UAE, in each of the seven emirates and its free zones (with the exception of the DIFC and ADGM).

The New Labour Law refers in several parts to Implementing Regulations to be issued by the MHRE, which will contain further explanatory provisions to the law and also set out further frameworks. It has not yet been announced when these Regulations will be available. However, this structure gives the MHRE much welcome flexibility to regulate employment matters in the years to come.

Flexible Work Patterns

The New Labour Law recognises non-traditional forms of employment, which have been increasingly popular in other developed jurisdictions. The new forms of employment relationship include part-time, temporary and flexible (or freelance) employment relationships. The forms of employment recognized by the New Labour Law are:

•Full-time employment: working a single job during all working hours on all working days.

•Part-time employment: working for an employer or employers for a specified number of working hours or specified number of working days.

•Temporary employment: work which requires a specified amount of time to complete, or task-based work.

•Flexible (or Freelance) employment: working for a variable number of working hours or working days depending on the work requirements or economic conditions of the employer.

•Any other form of employment introduced by the Implementing Regulations.

This provision consolidates the recent recognition by MHRE of part-time working and provides for greater recognition of other work patterns. However, the detail of how employers can engage employees in each type of work (e.g. authorisations required), as well as the form of employment contract required will only be set out in the Implementing Regulations.

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