Given the increasingly diverse nature of the UAE workforce, it is not surprising that the UAE has introduced some interesting Employment Law developments over the latter part of 2019. The main changes have occurred in the Employment Law which applies in the Dubai International Financial Centre (the DIFC), and there have also been some key developments to the Federal Law No 8. of 1980 (the “Federal Employment Law”), which governs the relationship between mainland/onshore entities and their employees.
There are many changes introduced to DIFC Employment Law, but we focus below on the family friendly rights in the DIFC and anti-discrimination provisions in the Federal Employment Law.
Family friendly rights in the DIFC
These rights have been introduced or enhanced:
- Paternity leave: five days leave has been introduced for the first time in the DIFC.
- Antenatal appointments: the right to take paid time off to attend ante-natal appointments has been extended to expectant fathers.
- Adoption leave: female employees who are adopting a child will be entitled to the equivalent of statutory maternity leave (which is 65 working days), if the child is under five years of age at the time of adoption.
- Returning to work: female employees who return to work after their maternity leave will be entitled to a daily one hour nursing break for a period of six months.
Developments in the Federal Employment Law in Dubai
In line with modern day working practices and culture, there have also been certain changes to the Federal Employment Law. Some of these are as follows:
- Anti-discrimination: a new provision has been introduced in the Federal Employment Law to prevent discrimination which prejudices equal opportunities/access to jobs, continuity of employment and so on.
- Female working restrictions: previously there were restrictions on female employees undertaking night-time shifts and working in dangerous or detrimental to health environments. However, these restrictions have now been repealed.
- Pregnancy protection: a new Article in the Federal Employment Law prohibits terminating an employee whilst they are pregnant. In the event that an employer serves a pregnant employee with a notice of termination then this will expose the employer to a high risk of a claim for arbitrary dismissal by the employee.
The above changes/additions to the Federal Employment Law are focused on preventing gender discrimination and ensuring that women are provided with equal opportunities in the workplace. How far they create other protections, such as for belief or origin, remains to be seen.
Policies which fall within the scope of the changes should be reviewed to ensure they comply with the new laws.