New UAE Federal Labour Law Announced

New UAE Federal Labour Law Announced

The UAE Government announced significant legislative change as part of the UAE’s 50th anniversary. The legal reforms constituted the biggest legal shake up in the country’s history. Included in the announcements was a new UAE Federal Labour Law – the first in over 40 years.

Federal Decree by Law No. 33 of 2021 Regulating Labour Relations supersedes, in its entirety, Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 Labour Law, and became enforceable from 2nd January 2022. Alongside the new law will sit Executive and Implementing Regulations.

As federal health and safety law is primarily derived from Labour Law – its impact on the UAE health and safety community cannot be underestimated.

Caroline Savage from Corporate OHS, a UAE based health and safety consultancy, will discuss below the impact the new law will have on HSE professionals in the region and how they may best approach and conduct their work in light of the changes.

What were the previous Federal Laws as regards Occupational Health and Safety in the region?

The previous health and safety legal regime was primarily derived from Labour Law Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 and applicable to almost all employees working in the UAE with the exception of some freezones. Implemented in conjunction with supplementary Ministerial Decisions, for example, Ministerial Decision No.32/1982 on determining prevention means and measures to protect workers from work hazards.

The law imposed a number of health and safety obligations on employers, including a general duty to ensure a safe workplace for employees. It also imposed obligations on the employee to abide by the occupational safety and health instructions given by the employer.

What region/s will the new Laws govern?

The new Federal Labour Law No. 33 of 2021 will apply to almost all employers and employees working in the private sector in the United Arab Emirates.

Are there any exceptions to compliance with the Law for the private sector?

The new Federal Labour Law No. 33 of 2021 applies to all private sector entities across the UAE, including freezones, with the exception of the DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) and ADGM (Abu Dhabi Global Market) freezones.

What are the primary differences from a health and safety perspective?

New working hours in full time contracts – Defined as working for a single employer for full hours of work throughout all working days. Overtime is now capped at 144 hours of work in a 3-week period with employees only allowed to work a maximum of two overtime hours per day.