By Barney Almazar, Esq.
Whether you are working to live or living to work, it is important that you know your rights as an employee in the UAE.
Employer-employee relationship in the emirates is primarily governed by Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 or commonly known as the UAE Labor Law. Although Article 63 talks about minimum wage, the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs has yet to propose a minimum wage. Until this happens, the employers and employees are on their own to agree on what constitutes as acceptable pay. With the government not interfering on the amount of remuneration, it is up to the job market to put a price on labor.
Landing Your Dream Job
Let the law work for you starting with pre-employment. A common misconception is that issues arising before one becomes employed are not covered by Labor Law. Even if an employee is not yet hired, he is already covered by the law. For example, Article 18 prohibits demanding or accepting a commission or material reward for arranging recruitment–whether before or after his recruitment. It prohibits receiving payment for any expenses related to his employment.
If your potential employer is requiring you to pay for your recruitment cost or is charging an application or processing fee, you should take that as a warning and look for another employer. Your potential employer has already violated the law even if you are not yet under his employment.
Salary Negotiation: Balancing Basic Wage and Allowances
Your monthly salary of AED10,000 is broken down into – 1) Basic Wage – AED6,000; Transportation – AED1,500; Housing – AED2,500. Since you are getting the full AED10,000 every payday, should the breakdown matter? It depends.
Under Article 134, the wage which is considered as basis for computation of the end of service gratuity shall not include any allowances. In addition, overtime pay computation is likewise based on basic wage only. Thus, in the example above, the basis of gratuity pay will be AED6,000 since allowances will not be considered. If you are an OFW in the UAE, it will be beneficial if you will negotiate your basic salary to be AED10,000 instead, without any allowance.
Probationary Period is Not Mandatory
A probationary period is not mandatory. The law only permits this as an option. According to Article 37, the employee may be appointed for a probationary period not to exceed six months. During this period, your continued employment is not guaranteed so it will be at your advantage if you can shorten or skip the probationary status.
Employment Contract Must be Regularly Updated
Your employment contract is the law between you and your company, provided of course that its terms and conditions do not contravene the law. So, every time you are promoted or given salary increments, always request your employer to execute a new contract, or at the very least, put your promotion or any change in your employment status in writing. Remember, Article 134 states that gratuity shall be computed on the basis of last wage which you were entitled to. If you do not have a new contract reflecting your new salary and your employer claims otherwise, proof of burden is on your side.