Employment laws and regulations

Different laws apply to domestic workers, employees of the public and private sectors and free zones. Read about the key provisions of the laws for the various groups.
Public sector employees
Employment laws for the federal sector

At the federal level, Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR) is in charge of managing human resources for ministries and federal authorities which are subject to the Decree law.

Public sector employees are governed by the Federal Decree Law No. 11 for the year 2008 (PDF file), as amended. These laws apply to the civil servants who are earning their salaries from the federal budget, as well as the civil employees working at federal authorities and corporations.

Ministries and federal authorities whose laws provide that they will have exclusive job regulations are exempted from the above Decree within the limits of its stipulations.

Further, Council of Ministers' Resolution No. 15 of 2013 on the Human Resources' Regulation for the Independent Federal Entities (PDF file) applies to the employees working at independent federal entities listed within.

Read employment laws and regulations pertaining to the UAE’s federal sector on the website of Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR):

Employment resources

Check the following resources on the website of Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR):

 Employment laws for the local governments of the UAE


Resources on health and safety at workplace

Pensions in the UAE

Find laws and forms which pertain to the pensions of Emirati citizens.

Federal pension laws for Emirati citizens

Abu Dhabi pension law for the local government of Abu Dhabi


Check these forms on the website of General Pension and Social Security Authority

Check for more laws and circulars on the website of General Pension and Social Security Authority. 

Private sector employees

Working in the private sector

Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 also known as the Labour Law as amended governs the labour rights of employees in the private sector.

The Labour Law handles matters related to working hours, vacation and public holidays, sick leave, employing juveniles, maternity leave, employee records, safety standards, termination of employment and end of service gratuity payments. According to Article 3 of the Law, it applies to all employees working in the UAE, whether UAE nationals or expatriates. However, there are certain categories of employees who are exempt from the law and may have to follow another set of regulations.

As amended by Federal Law No. 24 of 1981 and Federal Law No. 12 of 1986, the provisions listed in the law do not apply to the following categories:

  • employees and workers of the federal government and the local governmental departments
  • employees and workers in public entities and institutions, whether federal or local, and employees and workers appointed for governmental, federal and local projects
  • members of armed forces, police and security
  • domestic servants in private households and similar occupations
  • workers in farms or pastures with the exception of persons working in agricultural institutions processing the products thereof or the persons permanently operating or repairing mechanical machines required for agriculture.

Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, known before as Ministry of Labour is responsible for overseeing the employer-employee relations and maintaining labour rights for the private sector.

Laws and regulations

Read the laws and regulations that govern the private sector employment in the UAE.

Labour law – key provisions

Here are some of the key provisions of the Labour Law:

  • working hours
  • official leaves and vacations
  • wages Protection System (WPS)
  • end of service benefits
  • safety at work place
  • accommodation
  • insurance.


Working hours

Article 65 of the UAE Labour Law identifies the normal working hours for the private sector as 8 hours per day or 48 hours per week.

The working hours may be increased to 9 hours a day for businesses, hotels and cafes after approval from MoHRE.

Government entities are not governed by the Labour Law and they operate for 7 hours daily.

Working for more than 7 hours a day is prohibited in arduous or unhealthy works and industries.

Normal working hours are reduced by two hours daily during the holy month of Ramadan.

An overtime is considered if the nature of job demands working beyond normal working hours and it will entitle the employee for a pay equal to normal working hours' remuneration plus 25 per cent of that pay. It could increase to 50 per cent if overtime is done between 9 pm and 4 am.


Related link


Official leaves and vacations

Friday is the official weekend for all workers, except for daily wage workers. If circumstances require an employee to work overtime on that day, he will be entitled for regular working hours' pay, plus an increase of not less than 50 per cent of that amount.

Employees are entitled for paid leave on the following public holidays:

  • Hijri New Year - 1 day
  • Gregorian New Year - 1 day
  • Eid Al Fitr - 2 days
  • Waqfa day and Eid Al Adha - 3 days
  • Prophet Mohammed's birthday - 1 day
  • Isra and Miraj or the Ascension Day - 1 day
  • Commemoration or Martyr's Day - 1 day
  • National Day - 1 day.


In addition, employees are entitled to an annual leave of:

  • 2 days per month, if they have completed six months of service but not one year
  • 30 days, if they have completed one year of service.


Employees are entitled to a sick leave of not more than 90 days per year subject to conditions stipulated in the law. They will receive full pay for the first 15 days, half pay for the next 30 days and no pay for the rest 45 days.

Employees may be granted a special leave without pay, which may not exceed 30 days for the performance of Hajj once throughout his service. This is granted only once during his years of employment.

Employees are not entitled to any paid sick leave during the probation period.


Working during official holidays or leave days

If the work requires the employee to work on an official holiday or a leave day, he shall be granted another rest day with a wage equal to 150% of his basic wage for that day.

If he is not granted another rest day, the wage shall be 250% of his basic wage for each day as per Article 81 of the UAE Labour Law.


Related links:



Wages Protection System (WPS)

The Wages Protection System (WPS) is an important step to ensure and protecting the rights of workers, and to establish trust between organisations and their employees. Under this system, salaries of employees will be transferred to their accounts in banks or financial institutions, which are authorised by Central Bank of the UAE to provide the service. For any concerns or complaints regarding the salary, employees can contact the MoHRE or lodge a complaint through eNetwasal.

As per Ministerial Decree No. 739 of 2016 Concerning the Protection of Wages, all establishments registered in the Ministry shall pay the wages of its employees on the due date through the WPS.



Related links


End of service benefits 

Read about this in the pensions and end of service benefits' page.


Safety and health at work place

Articles 91 to 101 of the UAE Labour Law specify the provisions for employees' safety and health care.


Reduction in working hours

Construction and industrial workers are not permitted to work during the hottest hours of the day during the summer. Any firm found to have staff working during the designated break time would be fined AED 5,000 per worker up to a maximum of AED 50,000.

Also, employees are entitled to work 2 hours less every day during the holy month of Ramadan.


Useful links:


Protection against injuries

Employers should provide their employees with suitable means of protection against injuries and dangers such as a fire which may result from the use of machinery and other work equipment and against occupational diseases which may be contacted during work.

Employers shall display in a permanent and visible place at the work site, detailed instructions regarding the means of preventing fire and the means through which employees can protect themselves from hazards to which they might be exposed during work. These instructions shall be in Arabic, and if necessary another language understood by the employee.

Employers must keep a first aid kit or kits containing medicines, bandages and other first aid material readily available.





Medical check-up

At least once every six months, employers have to assign at least one physician to examine thoroughly the employees who are exposed to the possibility of contracting one of the occupational diseases. The results of such examination should be recorded on the employees' files.





Prohibition of alcohol on work premises

No employer may bring or allow others to bring any kind of alcoholic drinks for consumption on work premises.


Working in remote areas

Every employer who employs staff in remote areas that are not served by public means of transportation must provide his employees with the following services:

  • suitable transportation
  • suitable accommodation
  • suitable drinking water
  • suitable food
  • first aid services
  • means of entertainment and sports activities.

All the above services apart from food material will be on the employer's account.





In case of an injury or death at workplace

According to Article 149 of the Labour Law, the compensation for death at work is equal to the basic wage of the worker for 24 months, provided that the amount of compensation is not less than AED 18,000 or more than AED 35,000.

The amount of compensation is calculated on the basis of the last wage received by the worker prior to his death.

Read about what to do in case of an injury or death at workplace.


Labour accommodation

In June 2009, the UAE Cabinet launched the Manual of the General Criteria for the Workers' Accommodation. The manual sets standards for minimum facilities that must be provided to the labourers while adhering to the established environment, health and safety laws. It also recommends providing recreational amenities for them. Municipal authorities regularly inspect the accommodations.

Under the UAE National Programme for Happiness and Positivity, MoHRE launched a series of initiatives for labour happiness. These initiatives include: Happiest Work Environment, Best Labour Accommodation, Happiest Bus and Happiness SIM. The Best Labour Accommodation initiative aims to comply with and fulfill the Manual of the General Criteria for the Workers' Accommodation.

As per the Ministerial Resolution No. 591 of 2016 concerning the commitment of establishments (PDF file), establishments with 50 or more workers, where the wage of each worker is less than AED 2000 per month, must provide accommodation for its workers. 




Related links




Abu Dhabi and Dubai applies compulsory insurance coverage for all employees: nationals and expatriate residents. Read about insurance in the health section.

Read about the provisions for recruiting UAE nationals in the private sector.


Minimum wages

There is no minimum salary stipulated in the UAE Labour Law, however it broadly mentions that salaries must cover basic needs of the employees.

Article 63 of the Labour law mentions that the minimum wage and cost of living index is determined either in general or for a particular area or a particular profession by virtue of a decree and consent of the Cabinet.


Useful links:


Workers’ rights international agreements

Read about major international agreements ratified by the UAE.


Emiratisation laws and policies in the private sector

The UAE is implementing a strategic plan to promote Emiratisation in the private sector. Read about these laws:



Read some resources which pertain to private sector employment on the website of Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation:



Check templates of job offers and contract services on the website of Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. 

Semi-government employees

Employees of a semi-government company may be subject to either the Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 also known as the Labour Law, as amended, or to the respective human resources law of the local or the federal entity which owns the company. There is no unified rule for all. The applicable law depends on the semi-government company’s human resource policy, and the way it was established.


Some semi-government companies are established by virtue of a decree or law and some are established by a Memorandum and Articles of Association. If the company’s law of incorporation states that the human resources law of the state or the emirate applies to employees, then the same law will apply.


If the company’s law of incorporation states that UAE Labour law applies to employees, then the UAE Labour law will apply.


If the company’s law of incorporation fails to mention applicable laws on employees, then the UAE Labour Law will apply and it will govern the employment relations in the respective semi-government company.

Free zones employees

Those working in free zones are generally not governed by the UAE Labour Law. Each free zone authority has its own employment law and employees are subject to the rules and regulations of their respective free zone authority.

Employees are under a contract with the respective free zone authority. The provisions set out in the employment contract must be in accordance with the Labour Law.

Moreover, free zone employees are sponsored by the respective free zone authority and not by their employer.

Read about laws that govern free zones on the 'Complying with labour laws' page.

Useful links:

Read about Emiratisation resolutions.

Read about employment of people of determination.

Domestic workers

In September 2017, H. H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the UAE approved Federal Law No. 10 of 2017 on support service workers. The law, also known as Domestic Labour Law offers protection to workers. Read more.

Updated on 02 Oct 2018

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