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Norton Rose Fulbright’s online guide to global employment law is now available

More and more organisations are growing their global footprint and need to move their people around the world. In this global environment, it is essential to know, understand and comply with employment and labour laws in place across all of the jurisdictions in which organisations engage people. This will help to protect business from unnecessary risk, whether legal, financial or reputational.

We have launched a new interactive online version of our Global employment law guide first published in 2015.

Featuring 28 jurisdictions, our interactive guide helps clients navigate the often disparate and diverse national employment and labour laws, in particular … Continue Reading

An emoji too far for the UAE?

The release of a controversial “middle finger” emoji character could spell legal trouble for users in the United Arab Emirates.

It has been reported that Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system will be the first major software release to include the emoji officially known as “Reversed Hand With Middle Finger Extended.” Emoji are the standardised set of characters available across a range of platforms as a substitute for words, phrases or text/punctuation-based emoticons. While the icon has been available for use by developers for some time, Apple, Google and other companies have not yet implemented Reversed Hand With Middle Finger Extended … Continue Reading

Vicarious liability of employers under UAE and DIFC law

This article was written by senior associate Helen Perrin and trainee solicitor Freya Byrne.

Article 313.1.b of the UAE Civil Code (Civil Code) legislates that a person may be vicariously liable for the acts and omissions of their employees. The Civil Code provides that in order for vicarious liability to arise, three requirements must be met. Firstly, a relationship where the “supervisor” has power or control over the employee must exist. Secondly, a wrongful act must be committed by the employee and finally, the harmful act that causes damage to a third party must be committed “in the … Continue Reading

Collective Bargaining Rights of Employees in the UAE

This article was written by partner Jane Clayton and trainee solicitor Emily Colville.

The hosting of the 2022 football World Cup in Qatarhas led to considerable media and political attention on the rights of employees in that country and the surrounding region [Qatar’s World Cup ‘slaves’]. Here we focus on the position in one neighbouring country, the UAE, and in particular on employees’ rights to take collective action.

UAE Federal Law No. 8 of 1980, as amended, (the Labour Law) is the principal piece of legislation governing the relationship between employers and employees [U.A.E. Labour Law, Continue Reading

Republic of Lebanon liable for damages following a general protections (adverse action) claim by an Australian based consular employee

Republic of Lebanon liable for damages following a general protections (adverse action) claim by an Australian based consular employee.

The Republic of Lebanon has been ordered to pay a former Australian consular employee in excess of $330,000 in damages for future economic loss suffered by the former employee as a result of breaches of Australian workplace laws.

The decision of Judge Raphael of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (“Court”) confirms that foreign state immunity does not extend to claims relating to a contract of employment made or performed in Australia or to claims in relation to any … Continue Reading

The Breakup: What you need to know when terminating the employment of an Emirati employee

This article was written by partner Vandana Rupani and senior associate Hani Ghattas of Fulbright & Jaworski LLP.

A UAE employer hiring Emirati employees in the private sector should be aware that if the employment relationship with an Emirati employee does not progress as expected, it cannot simply terminate the employment of an Emirati employee unilaterally under the UAE Labor Law as is the case with other employees. Rather, pursuant to UAE Ministry of Labor Ministerial Resolution No. 176 of 2009, termination of the employment of an Emirati employee requires meeting certain conditions, including following the directions of the UAE … Continue Reading

Employees’ rights in bankruptcy in the UAE

This article was written by John Lee, Norton Rose Fulbright (Middle East) LLP.

Employees’ rights in bankruptcy in the UAE On the face of it, employees’ rights in the UAE seem to be well protected by the bankruptcy laws. Under Article 713(1) of Federal Law No. 18 of 1993 (Commercial Transactions Law), the wages and salaries of workers that have become due 30 days prior to the adjudication of bankruptcy may be paid on a super-priority level (“regardless of any other debt”) by the bankruptcy trustee. However, there is some uncertainty as to whether employees would be paid before secured … Continue Reading

UAE Free Zones: Are you better off being employed in one?

This article was written by Ali Kamal, paralegal at Norton Rose Fulbright (Middle East) LLP  

The labour regulations which govern the relationship between employer and employee in the UAE free zones vary between each free zone. They must, however, offer the minimum statutory employment rights and obligations that apply to employees working onshore in the UAE, as set out in the UAE Labour Law, Federal Law no.8 of 1980, as amended (the Labour Law). 

There are varying degrees of sophistication in the way in which each free zone has drafted its employment regulations. For example, the Dubai International Financial … Continue Reading

Restrictive covenants in the UAE

This article was written by Partner Patrick Bourke and Trainee Solicitor Mollie Tregillis.

Clients regularly ask questions regarding the position of post-termination restrictive covenants under UAE Law.


Post-termination restrictive covenants are permitted under UAE law and are generally binding subject to certain qualifications. The effect of Article 127 of Federal Law No 8 of 1980 as amended (the Labour Law) and Article 909 of the UAE Civil Code (the Civil Code) is that the inclusion of non-compete clauses in employment contracts is valid and lawful under UAE Law. However UAE Law requires that there are clear … Continue Reading

Saudiization’s Other Side – the Labor Crackdowns

This article was written by Sr. Counsel Richard Tyner and Associate Paul Lockyer.

Further to our recent article on Nitaqat, there is another aspect to Saudiization, namely to ensure that a company’s employees have valid Iqamas that comply with the laws relating to sponsorship. This is the “enforcement” side of Saudiization, which seeks to create employment opportunities for Saudi nationals by removing those who are not compliant with sponsorship laws.

The Iqama shows the employee’s name, nationality, the company he works for as his sponsor and his job position. If there is a Labor Office inspection at a company’s … Continue Reading

Wage Protection System – United Arab Emirates

In line with the labour markets of other GCC states (Wage Protection System – Saudi Arabia) the UAE Ministry of Labour (Ministry) has introduced an electronic transfer system called the Wage Protection System (WPS).  The WPS was principally introduced in an effort to protect manual labourers and lower income earners in the UAE by ensuring, amongst other things, that salaries are paid accurately and on time.

The system, which was largely driven by the UAE Central Bank, is compulsory for all private sector companies within the UAE who are registered with the Ministry and … Continue Reading

Redundancy in the UAE: the federal law and how much will it cost?

The federal law

In these times of economic uncertainty, employers are always considering implementing cost cutting including reducing their payroll costs. In the UAE, the Federal UAE Labour Law n°8 of 1980 (UAE Labour Law) does not make express reference to the concept of redundancy. Consequently, instigating a redundancy process involves following the provisions that deals with termination of employment.

Under the UAE Labour Law an employee on an unlimited term contract may only be legitimately dismissed:

(a)        by the provision of notice in line with the terms of the employment contract provided that the employee is dismissed … Continue Reading

The Nitaqat Program: what employers in Saudi Arabia need to know

This article was written by senior associate Helen Perrin and associate Paul Lockyer.

Similar to the labour markets of other GCC states (Emiratisation: what foreign businesses in the UAE need to know), the private sector in Saudi Arabia is largely dominated by expatriate workers. This has become a pressing concern for the Saudi Government in recent years, with the policy known as “Saudiization” becoming a top priority.

Under the Saudi Labour Law, at least 75 per cent of a private company’s workforce must be Saudi nationals. The law grants the Minister of Labour discretion to lower the … Continue Reading

Transfers of employees in the UAE as part of an acquisition

This article was written by Jeremy Pooley, Of Counsel at Norton Rose Fulbright (Middle East) LLP.

The parties to a share or business acquisition need to be alert to the types of employee-related issues that can arise, and structure the acquisition accordingly.

Share acquisitions

An employment contract will remain in force following a share acquisition and the relevant employee’s service will be considered continuous.

Under the UAE Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 (Labour Law), an employee who completes one year or more of continuous service will at the end of his employment be entitled to an end … Continue Reading

Wage Protection System – Saudi Arabia

The Wage Protection System (WPS) in Saudi Arabia became mandatory for all Saudi companies with over 3,000 employees on 1 September 2013 (Ministry starts the mandatory application of “Wage Protection Program” by the end of Shawwal). The objective of the WPS is to minimise any delay and issues in the payment of salaries.

Under the WPS, companies are required to submit wage information to the Ministry of Labour via the e-service program. The WPS will help to ensure that employee rights are protected and that salaries are paid according to agreed terms of employment contracts. … Continue Reading

Employee share options and incentive schemes in the UAE: the law explained

Business owners with operations in the UAE often consider the possibility of expanding international employee incentive schemes (Incentive Schemes) to its UAE resident employees.  Typically the biggest concern the employer has is whether local legislation and regulations will permit the offering and ultimate participation in an Incentive Scheme (regardless of how it is structured). 

An employer should consider UAE labour law requirements, changes which may need to be made to the Incentive Scheme vis-à-vis local employees, tax and social security implications and securities law issues in relation to the offering of stocks and securities (which are beyond the … Continue Reading

Unfair dismissal in the UAE

This article was written by Ola Al-Kadi, associate at Norton Rose Fulbright (Middle East) LLP

Unlike countries in Europe, where termination of the employment relationship can be more complex, in particular, for longer serving employees, an employer in the UAE is able to terminate an employee’s employment relatively easily by giving the agreed amount of notice.

Despite this general ability by an employer to terminate, UAE Federal Law No.8 of 1980 as amended (the Labour Law) recognises that there may be circumstances in which an employee is unfairly dismissed and expressly provides for the right of an employee to … Continue Reading

End of Service Gratuity in the UAE explained

This article was written by Akshay Dosaj, Senior Associate at Norton Rose Fulbright.

Entitlements under the Labour Law

A key consideration relevant to foreign investors in the UAE is the scope of rights available to all employees upon the termination of their employment contracts. Under UAE Labour Law, every employee has a right to:

  • a notice period with full pay (or, if the employer prefers to not have the employee working during the notice period, a payment in lieu of notice)
  • a payment in lieu of any accrued and unutilised holidays
  • any repatriation expenses (if the employee is a foreign
Continue Reading

Employment contracts in the UAE: why do some foreign workers have two contracts?

Expatriate workers arriving in the UAE are often surprised to learn that, despite their hard won negotiations in getting the perfect expatriate package and employment contract agreed with their new employer, they will be required to sign a short standard form employment contract (in English and Arabic) governed by the UAE Labour Law with the Arabic language prevailing.  This contract often bears very little resemblance to the package that has been agreed and naturally leads the employee to ask “why are two different forms of contract required?”

Why are two different forms of contract required?

You may recall that we … Continue Reading

Labour law implications of outsourcing in the United Arab Emirates

This article was written by partner Dino Wilkinson and legal consultant Salma Peacock.

Outsourcing is a practice used by organisations to reduce costs by transferring portions of work or business functions to third party providers rather than providing the service in-house.

This transfer of portions of work or internal business functions to external suppliers has significant implications for employees of the company that is undertaking the outsourcing.

In some jurisdictions around the world, there are regulations that safeguard employees’ rights in this type of scenario. If the outsourcing is deemed to be a transfer of a business unit, employees in … Continue Reading

Expat visas in the UAE: will I be banned if I take a new job?

This article was written by Ali Kamal, Paralegal at Norton Rose Fulbright (Middle East) LLP

Except for UAE nationals (and, in general, GCC nationals) all UAE residents need permission from the UAE Ministry of Labour (MOL) to work, and, from the UAE Immigration Department to live in the UAE. Each Emirate in the UAE has its own Labour Department and Immigration Department and for the most part their policies are consistent with each other. The same regulations may, however, be interpreted or applied differently by each Emirate.

Typically a one-year work ban will be imposed on an employee … Continue Reading

Common theme for July: wrongful dismissal

We are delighted to announce that in the next few days, our bloggers from many regions will discuss how wrongful dismissal is dealt with in their respective jurisdiction! Our bloggers will address the remedies available for employees wrongfully dismissed as well as the main criteria courts and tribunals use to adjudicate these complaints.

We hope you enjoy this month’s common theme!Continue Reading

Employee implications of setting up a branch office of a foreign company in the UAE

A popular way for foreign companies to retain 100 per cent foreign ownership in the UAE is to open a branch or representative office of a foreign company (Setting up a branch or representative office of a foreign company in the UAE). Whilst this initially appears to be an attractive proposition, many foreign entrants often fail to realise that, despite having full control, there will still be hurdles to overcome in order to bring overseas employees into the UAE to run local operations.

By way of background, employment in the UAE is governed by Federal Law No. 8 … Continue Reading

Labour pains: sponsorship of migrant workers in the Gulf

This article was written by Léonie Hamway, Norton Rose Fulbright.

Many countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have a huge population of migrant workers making up a significant proportion of the workforce. For example, in Qatar, 300,000 citizens rely on 1.3 million migrants for their labour needs (Qatar’s migrant worker problem now includes pro soccer players). Worker migration is made possible through the Kafala sponsorship system, whereby a worker has a sponsor who is responsible for his/her visa and legal status.

Sponsorship can be an appealing prospect for a migrant, as in many GCC countries sponsors are … Continue Reading