UAE Mulls Labour Law Amendment, New Standard Employment Contract

The amended law aims to reduce the gaps in working conditions between the public and private sectors, says labour minister.



The UAE is currently in discussions to amend the country’s Labour Law, and is also finalising a new standard employment contract, Labour Minister Saqr Ghobash has said.

In an interview with Al A’amal magazine, Ghobash said that his ministry has completed a comprehensive draft revision of the Labour Law and that it is currently subject to discussions with the government and relevant authorities ahead of submission to the Cabinet.

“Without getting into details, as the draft document is still under discussion within the government, I can say that a key objective of the proposed amendments is to ensure and encourage larger participation by UAE nationals in the labour market by way of provisions in the law that narrow the gaps in working conditions between the public and private sectors,” he said.

His remarks come as the UAE is pushing to employ more nationals in the private sector, with the UAE National Agenda, released early last year, aiming to increase emiratisiation in the private sector 10-fold by 2021.

However, UAE nationals still prefer the public sector because of increased benefits such as shorter working hours and longer government holidays, say experts.

Ghobash said steps were being taken to address the issue.

“Our policy-making is focused on supporting the transformation of our national economy to one that is competitive, knowledge-based and led by qualified and skilled Emiratis,” he said.

He also confirmed that the government is looking to introduce several new initiatives in order to empower UAE nationals to join the private sector, achieve higher flexibility in the labour market, attract talent from overseas and improve productivity.

“We are in the process of finalising a new standard employment contract that will guarantee the transparency of contracting by spelling out the respective rights and obligations of both parties and ensuring that the worker gives his or her verifiable consent to the terms of the contract prior to departing from his home country to work in the UAE,” he added.

Ghobash also panned international reports critical of labour conditions in the UAE, stressing that the country strongly protects workers rights and that it has enacted several laws and regulations to deter violations.

“The MoL is committed to full transparency in dealing with workers’ rights and to preventing and sanctioning any violation in accordance with our laws,” he said.

“As in any other labour market, violations or non-compliance with the terms of labour contracts do occur; what is important is that we constantly upgrade our regulations to make sure that such violations are anticipated and prevented and when they do occur we take immediate measures to sanction them.”

He added: “Unfortunately, many of the reports are based on deficient information and do not adequately reflect labour conditions in the UAE as they tend to make unsubstantiated generalisations. Nevertheless, we consider that any plausible allegation of violation or abuse warrants consideration and we will investigate any that are brought to our attention aggressively and transparently.”

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