Contrary to popular belief, it’s not illegal to take on a part-time job in the UAE if you are already in full-time employment. In fact, for many professionals it’s a lifeline.
Taking on a second job is a great way to supplement your income when you need it most or to test the water before launching a business.
However, there are strict rules governing the number of hours you can work and the approvals you need in accordance with UAE labour law.
To help you navigate the process, here’s a guide to the key questions you need to ask when considering multiple jobs in the UAE:
1. Do I need permission from my employer or sponsor?
It’s possible to have two jobs without the approval of your primary employer.
The UAE labour law was modified in 2010 to allow skilled employees to have a part-time job in addition to a full-time role, subject to certain conditions.
There has been a large amount of confusion over these conditions because the rules are different depending on the status of the individual.
This put employees in a tricky position because they needed to convince their primary employers that their part-time work would not interfere with, or adversely affect, their performance in the full-time role.
To make things easier, in 2018 the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) introduced a new system
• Employees can now take several part-time jobs without the approval of their primary employer
• The new system allows companies to recruit skilled workers from inside the country or from abroad under part-time contracts
• Emirati, GCC national or expat employees on a work visa wanting to take on a part-time job in addition to a full-time role can apply directly to the MoHRE for a part-time work permit
This is great news for employees experiencing financial difficulties looking to increase their earnings. It also provides an avenue for entrepreneurs to gain skills and experience in a particular industry prior to setting up a business.
However, you still need to obtain a no objection certificate (NOC) from your sponsor if you are in the UAE on a family visa. It must then be sent to the MoHRE as part of your application for a part-time work permit.
2. What are the limitations?
You need to be ‘skilled’ and work less than eight hours per day in your second job.
This new system for part-time work in the UAE aims to give employees more flexibility while meeting the needs of employers from the existing labour market rather than importing labour from outside the Emirates.
However, there are some limitations. Under the provisions of the UAE labour law, if you take on a part-time role when you are already working full-time, you must work for no more than eight hours per day in the secondary job.
Perhaps the biggest limitation of the new system is that you need to be a in a specialist profession that requires scientific, technical and administrative skills. You also need a university degree or higher, or a two- or three-year diploma in a technical or scientific field.
The original employer is required to pay a ministerial fee ranging from Dhs150 to Dhs2,000, while the secondary employer would be required to pay Dhs100.
The primary employer will remain responsible for the employee’s annual leave, the end of service benefits and any other financial obligations with respect to their number of actual working hours.
3. How do I apply for a part-time work permit?
If you wish to take on a secondary, part-time job, you must obtain a part-time work permit from the MoHRE.
The permit is valid for one year. The cost of Dhs600 – paid by your part-time employer – consists of an application fee of Dhs100 and an approval fee of Dhs500.
It’s money well spent – if an expat is caught working for another company without an official UAE work permit, the hiring company faces a fine of Dhs50,000.
You can apply for a part-time work permit by visiting a Tas’heel service centre to print out your application form. This must be sent to the MoHRE and must include:
• A copy of the trade licences of the business you plan to work for
• A colour photograph of yourself
• A copy of your passport
• A letter of approval from relevant authorities as required
• Any relevant academic qualifications
• An NOC from your sponsor, if applicable
• A copy of your new work contract
• A copy of your residency visa, which must be valid for more than six months
Once the relevant documents have been submitted, they are checked and approved by the MoHRE. It takes two working days to process the application.
4. Is it worth it?
Taking on an extra part-time role when you are already employed is a fairly new concept in the UAE but it is gaining in popularity, both as a way to supplement income or research a new business opportunity.
Despite the process being simplified recently, there are still quite a few hoops you’ll need to jump through.
It would be wise to seek help from a local expert skilled in navigating the application process for a part-time work permit in the UAE. This will save time, cut hassle and help you avoid falling foul of the law.
That being said, the provisions of the UAE labour law, and subsequent changes to the application process, demonstrate there is clearly a political will to support people who want to take on an extra job.
Neil Petch is the chairman of VirtuGroup