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UAE Labour Law: All You Wanted to Know About Leaves, Wages, and Shifts

UAE Labur Law: Know about your leaves

Whether you’re about to start, just started, or have been, for a while, working in the UAE, being aware of UAE Labour Laws is a must. Not only would you be in a better position to stake claim on your rights, but also know better than to commit defaults. After all, ignorance isn’t always bliss! You need to know about the hours you must put in, the leave you are entitled to, and other various aspects of your job.

If you work in a private sector company in the UAE, your rights are governed by Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 (or Labour Law) under the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. The ministry supervises all employer-labour relations and maintaining labour rights for the private sector.

Here are some of the key provisions of the labour law in the UAE:

Work Hours

Labour Laws in the UAE deem 8 hours a day, or 48 hours a week as the normal duration in the private sector. In the hospitality industry though, these hours are stretchable up to 9 hours a day upon approval from the Ministry. Government organisations and departments, on the other hand, operate for 7 hours on all weekdays. Shifts of over 7 hours in taxing or unfit conditions are also illegal. During the holy month of Ramadan, work-hours are slashed by two hours each day.


Employees are entitled to up to a 25% addition in remuneration for work they may put in over and above regular work hours on a per diem basis. If the overtime is put in during the wee hours, that is between 9 pm and 4 am, this could double to 50%. That said, your organisation needs to justify the need to make you work the extra hours in order for it to be able to pay the extra remuneration.


Fridays are UAE’s Sundays so you’ll need to change your weekly off expectation, except daily-wage workers. In special cases, if you’re expected to work on a Friday, you’re also entitled to an overtime of at least 50% in addition to a regular day’s pay.

Compensatory Off

If you’ve worked during a holiday or your approved vacation, you’re entitled to take other days as rest days and a 50% add on upon your basic wage for the day. If your employer can’t give you that, then they must extend a 150% overtime as compensation as per Article 81 of the Labour Law.

Public Holidays

Here’s an indicative list of holidays so that you can plan your year, travel and personal time: 



Date (Gregorian calendar)

Holiday duration

New Year

Wednesday 1 January 2020


Leilat al-Meiraj (The Prophet’s Ascension)

Saturday-Sunday 21-22 March 2020


Beginning of Ramadan

Thursday 23 April 2020


Eid-al-Fitr (End of Ramadan & Holidays)

Saturday-Monday 23-25 May 2020


Arafat (Haj) day

Wednesday-Thursday 29-30 July 2020


Eid Al Adha Holidays

Thursday-Saturday 30 July-1 August 2020


Hijri New Year

Wednesday-Thursday 19-20 August 2020


Prophet’s Birthday

Thursday 29 October 2020


Commemoration Day

Tuesday, 1 December  2020


National Day 48


2 Monday to 3 December 2020


New Year’s Eve

Thursday 31 December



Annual Leave

As an employee in the UAE, you earn 2 days off each month if you’ve served the organisation for over six months, but less than a year. Upon completion of the first year, you will be entitled to a full month – or 30 days off. It includes public holidays and weekends, and also sickness.

You’re entitled to your basic wage and housing allowance. However, you can’t carry forward leave beyond once in two straight years. You’re entitled to being paid your salary for leave before you avail it. You can also encase your leave against the notice period if you choose to resign without having claimed your full annual leave.

Sick Leave

Only if you’re a permanent employee of an organisation, you can avail 90 days of sick leave. However, only the first 15 are fully paid. You will receive half pay for the next 30 days and must claim the rest of the 45 unpaid. As per the UAE Labour Laws, you must intimate your employer about your illness within the first two days of your absence and should pass your employer’s medical exam should your HR feel the need to verify the legitimacy of your claim. You cannot be dismissed or given termination notice during your sick leave. But this clause only holds true for the duration of the 90 days.

On the other hand, if your illness renders you incapable of returning to work, you may resign within the first 45 days of your leave with a certificate from the employer’s medical physician. Your employer would have to pay you the remaining wages due to you for the first 45 days.

Hajj leave

You’re entitled to 30 days of unpaid leave without risking termination of your job if you intend to perform Hajj, once throughout your service period.

Maternity Leave

Working women can claim 45 days of fully paid maternity leave if you’ve served the company for at least a year already. You are only entitled to receiving half pay if your period of service is not over a year. You can extend this leave to up to 10 days – however, unpaid. You are also allowed two paid rest intervals of 30 minutes each day for the next 18 months if you’re nursing.


Under the Wages Protection System (WPS) you can only receive your wages or salaries through a wire transfer to your bank or other financial institution accounts. These institutions have to be Central Bank of UAE authorised. In the case of complaints about salary, you should get in touch with the MoHRE or submit your complaint via eNetwasal.
You are entitled to gratuity for a fraction of a minimum of one year of continuous service. Gratuity is calculated based on your basic pay and none of your allowances are considered or included. Whether you’re under limited or unlimited contract, you are entitled to 21 days’ full salary per year as gratuity for serving between one and five years, and 30 days’ salary per year for more than five years of work.

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