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Industry professionals get to grips with changes to UAE Labour Law

Thursday, 19 January, 2017

The Human Resources Forum (THRF) in conjunction with the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) recently concluded their seminar series for 2016 with a discussion on “UAE Labour Law and Amendments”, which was presented by law firm Taylor Wessing.

The auditorium at the University’s was filled to maximum capacity with students, members, staff and HR professionals whom were all eager to get acquainted with the latest updates of the UAE Labour Law. 

During the session, Thenji Macanda, Senior Associate and Sarah Malik, Counsel, discussed the new Ministerial Resolutions and Decrees, which included offer letters, rules for terminating the employment relationship, conditions for issuing new work permits, accommodation for low income employees, a wage protection scheme, student placement and training, as well as maternity/paternity rights and the use of VPN’s in the workplace.

Ms Macanda discussed the legality of offer letters within Labour Law, stating that it is a legally binding document may result in legal action should any dispute arise prior to the visa process. This resolution will prevent the employer from altering or changing, without the consent of the employee, any of the provisions which may prejudice the rights of the worker.  It will, therefore, address possible loopholes and will make employees more content and secure in their workplace.

Another notable change in the Human Resources Law in Abu Dhabi was the maternity leave, which changed from two months to three months paid leave. This law also states that new mothers are able to leave their workplace for two hours each day to care for their children for a period up to 12 months. It also allows new fathers paternity leave up to three working days. This law is currently only applicable to public sector employees, so excludes the private sector and DIFC Employment Law; however, the UAE Government has set up a committee to review the current maternity leave provisions in the UAE Labour Law applicable to the private sector.

Ms Macanda also shared the newly updated Ministerial Resolution on Student Placement and Training which states that students between the ages of 12-18 may work and train in the private sector and may also be granted a work or training permit. However, this resolution does state restrictions such as working hours and break entitlements. This updated resolution is widely welcomed by students who wish to gain work experience through a part-time job or a summer placement.

The seminar ended with another interesting law being discussed: The Federal Law No.12 of 2016 which amends the Federal Decree - Law No.5 of 2012 on Combatting Cybercrimes.

This law is not intended to prohibit companies from lawfully using Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology in order to access their global IT networks. However, it does prohibit individuals or businesses using VPNs for the purpose of committing crime or preventing its discovery. An imprisonment term and/or financial penalty of between AED500,000 and AED2 million could be imposed on any person that uses a fraudulent VPN address for the purpose of committing crime. The audience were advised that companies should be diligent in ensuring that their employees remain in compliance with the legislation at all times when using an employer’s IT platform, which might raise indirect liability issues for the employer.

In 2016, THRF and UOWD ran 11 events and all were appreciated by students, staff and practitioners. THRF provides a great opportunity to showcase our facilities and build our connections with local business professionals.

For more information about the THRF contact them on alishadias@thrf.ae