Have questions? Ask us!

Employment in United Arab Emirates

UAE employment law appears complex and confusing when looking from an outside view although in some ways there are many similarities to other countries. Both UAE nationals and foreign workers are subject to UAE employment law, with some exemptions for certain categories. For these and many other reasons the following are only guidelines in the broadest sense, and professional legal services are recommended when employing in UAE.

Key points on employment in United Arab Emirates

There are several key areas to be aware of within UAE’s employment regulatory framework, especially for companies that plan to initiate a full local office and human resources department. These challenges can be mitigated by use of a locally sourced payroll provider who is familiar with all of the UAE laws and rules for both UAE employees as well as foreign nationals.

According to Article 3 of the Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 Regulating Labour Relations, the Law applies to all staff and employees working in the UAE, whether UAE nationals or expatriates. However, there are certain categories of individuals who are exempted from the Law as listed below:

1. Staff and workers employed by the federal government, government departments of the member emirates, the

2. Municipalities, public bodies, federal and local public institutions and those staff and workers employed in federal and local governmental projects.

3. Members of the armed forces, police and security units.

4. Domestic servants.

5. Agricultural workers and persons engaged in grazing (this exemption does not include persons who are employed in corporations which process agricultural products and/or those who are permanently engaged in the operation or repair of machines required for agriculture).

A partner in a business is not considered an employee and is therefore not required to obtain a labour card from the UAE. For immigration purposes therefore, a foreign partner will be sponsored by the entity he is a partner in, as an investor rather than as an employee and will deal with the immigration authorities directly rather than through the Labour Office, provided that his name is on the business entity’s license and subject to a minimum investment requirement in the entity. However, if the partner holds an employee position additional to his partner status, he will be considered as an employee for the work he is doing in the company.

On the other hand, employees working on a commission basis are considered as employees even if they are partners in the entity they are working for.

The official body covering employment law in the UAE appears to be the Ministry of Labour.

The following information should be considered as a broad and general guideline, and as always, legal advice is recommended should you require further help.

Employee Entitlements

Information Explanation
Medical Leave ?

The employee will not be entitled for any sick leave during the probation period.

Employees who have worked for at least three months (after any probation period)

  • Full wage for the first 15 days.
  • Half wage for the next 30 days.
  • Any following period will be without wage.

Outsourcing Employment Through a GEO Employer of Record Service

Companies entering UAE can make a decision whether to use their own resources or to use a Global Employment Organization to handle employment and payroll responsibilities. A GEO solution is particularly beneficial when a company is looking to setup an office quickly with a manageable cost. The complexity of employment regulations in UAE makes the use of a GEO advisable to ensure full compliance with employment laws, including the drafting of local employment contracts for workers.

The company that is expanding into UAE contracts with the GEO to employ and payroll their staff on their behalf. The GEO then assumes the legal responsibility for these employees, sponsoring them on work permits if necessary, complying with local employment law and running their monthly payroll. This is especially useful to fulfill all of the specific withholding requirements for pensions and benefits, as well as documenting termination, probation periods and leave requests.

United Arab Emirates


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Join over 1,000 professionals!

Subscribe to our monthly Global Mobility newsletter