Everybody dreams about working in the UAE but seldom get the opportunity to make it. Moreover, in their desperate attempts to make it work, people often say yes to anything without understanding the consequences. This is something that becomes a major problem for a lot of people as things can get messy if you don’t understand UAE labour law.

For example, not knowing your rights as an employee can result in you getting exploited or worse. People have had to face circumstances that involved their employers ending their contract for no justified reason. Moreover, those who had no idea about the country’s national holidays were made to work when everybody else enjoyed their time off.

Although these sound insane, these are still very real scenarios that have taken place only because people weren’t aware of their rights. That’s why we’ve compiled a short list of essential labour laws that everyone should know:


Firstly, let’s take a look at the national holidays that everyone has a right to have. These vacations are yours regardless of what religion, country or profession you belong to:

  • Islamic New Year: One day
  • Commemoration Day: One day
  • New Year’s Day: One day
  • National Day: Two days
  • Eid al Adha and Arafat Day: Four days
  • Eid al Fitr: Two days

In addition to this, if you’re working for 6-12 months as per contract or you’ve just completed your probation, you’re entitled to 2 days off for every month. If the service period you’re serving is more than a year, you’re entitled to 30 days off for every year.

Regular Payment

This is something that is important for those who work daily wages in the UAE. You’re entitled to have your daily wage paid at the end of your working day. The currency of the wage should be the national currency and the payment should be made on a working day at the site you’re working on. In addition to this, you have no obligation to purchase anything from your owner even if they’re selling groceries or food items.

Furthermore, you’re not obligated to work more than 8-9 hours a day. Depending upon the orders given by the Minister of Labour and your company’s industry, you only have to work 8 hours or 9 hours per day. These hours are subjected to a 2-hour decrease in the month of Ramzan.

Maternity Leaves

Women who are working in the UAE have the right to maternity leave. As per the Federal Law No. 8, Article No. 30, you’re entitled to have 45 days of paid leaves. However, this condition only applies to employees who have stayed within a company for the period of at least a year. Otherwise, you’ll still get your off-days but the pay will be cut in half.

Employer’s Obligations

After you have known and understood about your rights as an employee, you should also make an effort to understand your employer’s obligations. You can consult a law firm in Dubai in case your employer refuses or denies you your rights.

Firstly, your employer has no right to take your passport and hold it for any period of time. This is especially for wage labourers who end up losing their passport and continue working for the same employer. In case your employer asks for it, you have the right to refuse while your employer has no right to terminate your contract or employment solely due to your refusal.

Secondly, you must understand that your employer has to bear the cost of your residency visa. You have no obligation to pay even the slightest amount as reimbursement for any costs your employer bears for your visa. Even if you reach an untimely termination of the contract, you have nothing to worry about in terms of accruing visa costs. If your company or employer offers you an instalment-based plan to pay for your own visa, you should immediately report this to the authorities as this is punishable by law.

Serving Notice Periods

Although resignations are your own right and you can announce it at any time, you have to serve your notice period. You don’t need the consent of your employer and you can’t be forced to resign by any means. The term of your notice period will be decided between the employer and the employee at the time of contract signing.

It’s essential for anyone coming to the UAE to understand their rights and obligations. For example, article 120 of the UAE labour law states the reasons for which termination of employment without prior notice is legal. Unless these conditions are not met, the termination is illegal. Read more on different laws and situations in which they become acceptable before you sign on for something.