Employment Contract

Once you have accepted a job offer you will be asked to sign an employment contract; this should list the starting date, type of employment, location, terms and conditions, duration and the salary. This is a legally binding agreement that should be written in both Arabic and English. You can check or print your labour contract and card online at mol.gov.ae.

An employment contract can be terminated if both parties agree, provided that the employee’s written consent is given; the employer will then need to cancel your residence visa. See Changing Jobs.

Most of the terms and conditions in your contract will be determined by UAE Labour Law – working hours, public holidays, maternity leave and so on.

Probation periods can be set for a maximum of six months. Some companies delay the residency process until the probation period is up, which can make settling in difficult – no residency means you can’t sponsor family members, buy a car or get a bank loan.

By law, employees are not entitled to paid sick leave during probation and most firms do not grant paid annual leave to be taken during this time – you will continue to accrue annual leave though that you can take over the course of the year.

Working hours
The maximum number of hours permitted per week according to UAE Labour Law is 48, although some industries, such as hospitality and retail, have longer stipulated hours.

Working hours differ dramatically between companies; straight shifts vary from 7am to 2.30pm for government organisations to the common 9am to 6pm for private companies. Most retail outlets tend to open from 10am to 10pm but often operate shifts. Teachers start at around 7.30am and classes finish around 2.30pm.

Friday is the Islamic holy day and therefore a universal day off, and Saturday is the second day of the weekend in most industries.

Annual holiday starts at one calendar month per year, roughly 22 working days.

While on sick leave, the first 15 days are with full pay, the next 30 days are with half pay, and any susequent days are unpaid.

Public holidays
New Year, Eid and other public holidays are set by the government, while the timing of religious holidays depends on the sighting of the moon. This can mean that it is difficult to plan holidays, as confirmation of public holidays can come just days before the event. The labour law states that all employees (even non-Muslims) are entitled to a shorter working day, two hours less, during Ramadan.

Maternity leave
Expat women working in the UAE are entitled to 45 days maternity leave, on full pay, once they’ve completed one year of continuous service. Fathers are not entitled to paternity leave. If you've been with your employer for less than a year you can claim 45 days on half pay. Mothers residing in Sharjah, however, are entitled to 60 days’ maternity leave on full pay; fathers resident in Sharjah have also been granted three days’ paternity leave on full pay.

Gratuity Payments
An employee on a fixed-term contract, who has completed one or more years of continuous service, will be entitled to 21 days’ pay for each of the first five years of service, and 30 days’ pay for each additional year as an end-of-service gratuity payment; this compensates for the lack of a pension system. This is based on your basic salary (not including basic housing, transport and utilities).

The total end of service gratuity should not exceed the salary of two years. Leaving before the end of your fixed-term contract or being fired for breaking UAE Labour Law could result in the loss of your gratuity payment.

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