Establish your presence globally with Neeyamo as we help you go beyond borders to manage your international payroll and hire new talent in UAE.
UAE is a country located in the Middle East, sharing its borders with Oman, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Qatar The prominent industries in the country include petroleum, petrochemicals, fishing, aluminum, cement, fertilizer, ship repair, construction materials, handicrafts, and textiles.
Do your organization’s expansion plans require you to hire employees in UAE? Do you lack a physical entity in the country – a key requisite to hire local talent? Neeyamo assists organizations worldwide with onboarding and managing employees in UAE -processing payroll, managing local compliance requirements, benefits, and more.
Facts And Stats
UAE Dirham (AED)
1 January - 31 December
Country Calling Code
Balochi, Hindi, Pashto, Persian
UTC + 04:00
Handling payroll for a widespread workforce can pose a significant challenge for any organization, and the added complication of compliance can make things worse. If companies spend more time processing payroll, it directly impacts day-to-day operations and their overall productivity.
Over the years, Neeyamo has observed these complexities and strived to provide a global payroll solution through a single technology platform - Neeyamo Payroll.
Payroll tax is the percentage amount retained from an employee's salary and paid to the government to invest in the general population's welfare. These are statutory in nature and are levied from both the employer and employee. Additional statutory contributions are made by employers towards aiding both short-term and long-term benefits for their employees.
Social Security - 5.00%
Social Security (basic social security plus housing allowance, based on a monthly minimum of 1,000 AED and maximum of 50,000 AED) (These contributions are for Emiratis only, no contributions for expats)
Social Security (Local employee) Employee-12.50%
Social Security (basic social security plus housing allowance, based on a monthly minimum of 1,000 AED and maximum of 50,000 AED) There is an additional 2.5% contribution made by the Government making the total contribution for social security of 20%.
A higher rate of 26% is applied in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, where the contribution of the employer is 15%, the Government’s contribution is 6%, and the employee’s contribution is 5%.
There is no federal personal income tax in the UAE.
Undoubtedly, payroll is a critical process for any organization. Pay cycle in UAE refers to the period for which an organization pays its employees, and this can vary depending on the pay frequency that the organization chooses to adopt.
For employees receiving an annual or monthly salary, the payroll cycle is monthly with payments paid no later than the 10th of the following month on a working day. If the pay date is not written in the employment contract, the payroll cycle is every 14 days.
13th Month Cycle
There is no requirement for 13th month salary payment in UAE.
An Employer of Record (EOR) service provider helps you eliminate the hassle of handling complexities while onboarding a new employee in an international location. They help bridge the gap that otherwise mandates organizations to have a locally registered entity and a local bank account before making a job offer to an international hire.
An EOR service provider acts as a legal employer, facilitates salary payments, and manages other statutory requirements such as health insurance, payroll taxes, and employee benefits, ensuring compliance with local tax laws and regulations.
This allows organizations to focus on collaborating with the employee in Argentina for operational tasks, with the knowledge that they have a cost-effective solution to support their global payroll & HR requirements as they continue their global expansion.
HR Mandates and Practices
There is no minimum wage in United Arab Emirates.
Overtime pay is paid at a rate of 125% of the regular pay, however, for overtime hours worked between 9 pm and 4 am, overtime is calculated at 150% of the basic salary.
For work on Fridays, the employee is entitled to an additional paid day off or overtime pay at the rate of 150% of the regular pay.
- The employer may instruct the worker to work overtime over the normal working hours, provided that they do not exceed two hours per day. e worker may not be instructed to work for more than that period, except in accordance with the conditions and rules specified by the Implementing Regulation hereof. In all cases, the total working hours shall not exceed (144) one hundred and forty-four hours every (3) three weeks.
- If the work conditions necessitate that the worker works for more than the normal working hours, the excess period shall represent overtime, for which the worker shall receive a wage equal to the wage corresponding to the normal working hours, which is calculated according to the basic wage plus an increase of not less than (25 %)twenty-five percent of that wage.
- If the work conditions require that the worker works overtime between 10 pm and 4 am, the worker shall be entitled, regarding the overtime, to receive the wage prescribed for the normal working hours calculated according to the basic wage plus an increase of not less then (50%) fifty percent of that wage. e workers working based on shifts shall be excluded from this clause.
- If the circumstances require that the worker works on the weekend specified in an employment contractor work regulation, he shall be compensated with another day o or he shall be paid the wage of that day according to the wage established for normal working days, plus an increase of not less than (50%) fifty percent of the basic wage for that day.
- A worker shall not be instructed to work for more than two consecutive weekend days, except for day workers.
Data Retention Policy
Employers must retain for at least five years records regarding taxes applicable to employees. The period of at least five years starts with the first day of the taxable period after the taxable period during which the taxes were applicable. The retention period may be extended by up to four years if an employer becomes subject to government audit or enters into a dispute with the government regarding tax obligations.
Hiring and Onboarding Requirements
There are legislative provisions that provide a positive obligation on some employers to employ a minimum number of United Arab Emirates (UAE) nationals. These include below legislations and requirements:
Ministerial Resolution No. (635) of 2008 on Public Relations Officers: Any company which employs more than 100 workers must employ a UAE national as a public relations officer.
Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) Ministerial Orders 41, 42, and 43 of 2005: Every private sector company with more than 50 employees (100 employees for banks) is obliged to recruit and retain on the payroll a stipulated percentage of UAE nationals as follows:
- 2 percent for commercial entities
- 4 percent for banks; and
- 5 percent for insurance companies
Companies that do not meet these requirements are required to file mandatory financial guarantees, the amount of which will depend on the category of the employer.
MoHRE Ministerial Orders 41, 42, and 43 of 2005: Expatriates may only be employed in the private and public sectors if there are no suitable UAE nationals available.
If there are no candidates who are UAE nationals, preference must be given to nationals of neighboring Gulf Cooperation Counties (ie, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia), over expatriates from other countries.
Article 32 of the Federal Decree Law No. (33) of 2021 regarding the Regulation of Labour Relations (Labour Law) and article 21 Cabinet Resolution No. (1) of 2022 on the Executive Regulations of Federal Decree Law No. (33) of 2021 (Executive Regulations): As UAE national employees are required to undertake compulsory national service training, they are entitled to national military service leave with full pay pursuant to article 32 of the Labour Law and article 21 of the Executive Regulations.
In addition to the legislative provisions, the UAE government has implemented a number of Emiratisation programs whereby the UAE encourages both public and private sectors to implement policies to actively recruit, train and employ UAE nationals.
The following are mandatory documents:
- National ID
- An Emirates ID card
- An entry permit from the Ministry of Labor
- Transcript of Record
Documents that may not be useful but are still important:
- Certificate from your previous school
- Certificate of employment from previous employers
- The probationary phase typically lasts three to six months. However, the probationary term lasts six months in accordance with UAE labor law. Typically, it begins on the first day of your new employment contract.
- According to Federal Law No. 33 of 2021, which governs labor relations, it is required to give notice in writing 14 days prior to terminating an employee during their probationary period, which cannot last longer than six months.
- The same employer is not permitted to put a worker on probation more than once.
- Employees must give a 14-day notice if they plan to leave the country while on probation. Unless there is a written agreement between the worker and the employer specifying otherwise, the new employer is responsible for paying the compensation if any in the event that the employee desires to return to the nation and acquire a new work permit within three months of the date of departure.
- Employees will lose their right to apply for a work permit for a year if they leave the country without giving notice while on probation.
- If either of the parties violates these guidelines, the violating party must pay the other party money equal to the number of ordinary workdays of the remaining notice period as compensation
Onshore: Pursuant to article 9 of the Labour Law, probation periods in the UAE may not exceed six months and must be specifically referred to in the contract of employment.
DIFC: Pursuant to article 14(2) of the DIFC Employment Regulations, any applicable probation period must not exceed six months. Where the employee is on a fixed-term contract, the probation period must not be more than half the term of the contract.
ADGM: Pursuant to article 9 of the ADGM Employment Regulations, probation periods in the ADGM may also not exceed six months.
UAE observes 7 holidays totaling 14 days:
- Gregorian New Year: 1 January
- Eid Al Fitr: From 29 Ramadan to 3 Shawwal* (4 days)
- Arafah Day and Eid Al Adha (Feast of Sacrifice): From 9 to 12 Dhu al Hijjah* (4 days)
- Hijri New Year (Islamic New Year): 1 Muharram
- Prophet Mohammed's birthday
- Commemoration Day: 1 December (previously known as Martyr's Day and was observed on 30 November)
- National Day: 2 and 3 December (2 days).
*Note: Islamic holidays are determined according to moon sightings.
An employee is entitled to paid annual leave which is not less than:
- 30 days for each year of service
- 2 days for each month in cases where the term of service was more than 6 months and less than 1 year
Leave for the parts of the last year of work in case the employee’s service ended prior to availing the annual leave balance.
A part-time employee shall be entitled to annual leave in accordance with the actual number of working hours spent at work. The period of such leave shall be specified in the employment contract of the employee.
After the probation period, an employee is entitled to 90 days of sick leave.
The first 45 days of sick leave are paid as follows:
- First 15 days of illness- leave is paid at 100% of the regular salary
- Next 30 days of illness- paid at 50% of the regular salary
- From the 46th day, sick leave is not paid.
Within the first 2 days of the sickness, the employee must give notice to their employer and produce a medical certificate from a doctor.
A woman is entitled to 45 days of fully paid maternity leave if they have completed at least 1 year of employment. If service is not for one complete year, then she will get half pay.
For women who work under the DIFC employment law, maternity leave is 65 days if the woman has worked for at least 1 year. The first 33 days are paid at a rate of 100% of the normal pay and the remaining 32 days are paid at the rate of 50% of the regular pay.
Paternity leave falls under parental leave.
For private-sector employees, both parents are entitled to 5 days of paid leave. The leave can be taken until the child reaches the age of 6 months.
Under the DIFC, pregnant employees are entitled to paid leave for prenatal care.
An employee who is an affiliate student or a full-time student at an accredited educational institution inside the State may be granted a paid study leave for 10 working days per year for the purpose of taking the examinations, provided that the employee has completed at least 2 years of service with the employer.
An employer shall provide for 5 days of paid leave for the death of a spouse and 3 days in case of the death of a parent, child, sibling, grandchild, or grandparent calculated from the date of the death.
An Emirati employee shall be entitled to a paid sabbatical leave to perform the National or Reserve Service, according to the laws applicable in the State.
Time off for Antenatal care and Adoption proceedings in DIFC
Subject to the Employee's compliance with this Article 41(2), an Employee who:
- is pregnant, or whose wife is pregnant;
- has, or whose wife has, on the advice of a medical practitioner registered with a
Competent Authority made an appointment to receive ante-natal care, is entitled to take a reasonable period of time off during the Employee's working hours in order to attend such an appointment.
An Employee must provide their Employer with:
- reasonable notice of an ante-natal appointment;
- a certificate from a medical practitioner registered with a Competent Authority confirming the pregnancy if requested to do so by their Employer; and
- written confirmation from a medical practitioner registered with a Competent Authority of the appointment for ante-natal care, if requested to do so by their Employer.
An Employee who plans to adopt a child is entitled to take up to an aggregate of eight (8) hours off during the Employee's working hours in order to attend adoption proceedings if they:
- give the Employer reasonable notice of the adoption proceedings; and
- provide their Employer with such evidence of the adoption proceedings as the Employer may reasonably require.
Time off for Antenatal care and Adoption proceedings in ADGM
An Employee who -
- is pregnant; and
- has, on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, made an appointment to receive antenatal care, is entitled to take time off during the Employee's working hours in order to keep the appointment is entitled to take time off during the employee’s working hours which shall be paid at the employee’s hourly rate.
The Employer may request the Employee to provide
- a medical practitioner's certificate confirming the pregnancy; and
- evidence of appointments for ante-natal care.
Maternity leave in ADGM
An Employer shall pay Maternity Pay at –
- the Employee's normal Daily Wage for the first 33 Business Days of Maternity Leave; and
- 50 percent of the Employee's normal Daily Wage for the next 32 Business Days of Maternity Leave.
An Employee cannot receive compensation in lieu of Maternity Leave.
Any National Holidays falling on a Business Day within the Maternity Leave period shall be treated as additional leave thereby having the effect of extending the Maternity Leave by the period of the National Holiday.
Maternity leave in DIFC
A female Employee may take Maternity Leave of up to sixty-five (65) Work Days.
A female Employee shall be entitled to Maternity Pay during Maternity Leave if she:
- will have been continuously employed by her Employer for at least twelve (12) months, including any period of Secondment, immediately preceding the expected or actual week of childbirth
- notifies her Employer in writing that she is pregnant at least eight (8) weeks before the expected week of childbirth
- provides a certificate from a medical practitioner registered with a Competent Authority confirming the expected or actual birth date; and
- notifies her Employer in writing at least twenty-one (21) days before the day on which the Employee proposes to begin her Maternity Leave.
The maternity rights granted under this Law also apply to a female Employee who is adopting a child of less than five (5) years old and, in such a case, references to childbirth in Article 37(2) are treated as references to the date of adoption.
Vacation Leave shall continue to accrue during Maternity Leave and, subject to the reasonable needs of the Employer's business may be taken consecutively to Maternity Leave.
Any Public Holiday falling on a Work Day during the Maternity Leave period shall be treated as additional leave having the effect of extending the Maternity Leave by the period of the Public Holiday.
Special leave in DIFC and ADGM
In DIFC and ADGM, an employee who has completed at least one year of continuous employment with an employer is entitled to special unpaid leave not exceeding 21 days to perform the Hajj pilgrimage once during the period of employment with the employer.
Sick leave for DIFC & ADGM
An Employee is entitled to Sick Leave of sixty (60) Work Days in aggregate in a twelve (12) month period. Any references in Articles 34 and 35 to a twelve (12) month period shall be deemed to be the same period as referred to in this Article 33(1).
An Employee who requires leave under this Article shall personally, or have someone on the Employee’s behalf:
- at least once every seven (7) days during a period of absence, notify the Employer thereof; and
- if required by the Employer, provide a medical opinion that states that the Employee cannot fulfill the duties reasonably expected in the Employee’s position
Where an Employee is absent because of sickness, the Employer shall, if the conditions set out in Article 33(2) is satisfied, pay to the Employee a Daily Wage for each day of Sick Leave in accordance with Article 34.
Paternity Leave for DIFC
In DIFC, a male employee who has been in continuous employment for his employer for at least 12 months including any period of transfer, immediately preceding the expected or actual week of his wife giving birth and notifies his employer at least 8 weeks before the expected week of childbirth is entitled to a paid leave up to 5 workdays for childbirth and adoption of a child of fewer than 5 years of age. Paternity leave must be taken within a month from the date – the child is born; or in cases where the child is adopted, the adoption date of the child.
Paternity Leave for AGDM
Paternity Leave for AGDM:
An Employee who becomes a father to a newly-born child shall be entitled to a minimum Paternity Leave entitlement of 5 Business Days to be taken within 2 months of the date of birth of the child.
During the Employee's minimum Paternity Leave, the Employer shall pay paternity pay at the Employee's normal Daily Wage.
The Employee cannot receive compensation in lieu of Paternity Leave.
Any National Holidays falling on a Business Day within the Paternity Leave period shall be treated as additional leave thereby having the effect of extending the Paternity Leave by the period of the national holiday.
Employees may be granted special leave for the performance of Hajj under the provisions that the leave:
-is given without pay
-may not exceed 30 days
-is granted only once during the employment duration with the company.
The UAE Labour Law does not have any provisions which entitle the employee for Umrah to leave. If the employee requests an Umrah leave, it is up to the employer to consent and deduct it from the employee’s annual leave or consider unpaid leave.
Yes, in all jurisdictions in the UAE notice of termination must be provided, except in those circumstances where there has been a material breach of the employment agreement.
Unless dismissal takes place in accordance with the limited provisions set out in article 44 of the Labour Law, a notice of termination, including a valid reason, must be given to an employee prior to dismissal. Pursuant to article 43(1) of the Labour Law, parties can agree to any notice period if it is between one month and three months.
Parties can agree to waive the notice period with pay in lieu of notice.
Pursuant to article 62 of the DIFC Employment Law, the minimum notice period an employee is entitled depends on their length of service with their employer:
- less than three months: seven days
- between three months and five years: 30 days
- more than five years: 90 days.
All notices of termination must be supplied in writing.
Employers and employees in the DIFC both parties can agree to longer or shorter periods of notice, for notice periods to be waived, and for payments to be made in lieu of notice.
Pursuant to article 55 of the ADGM Employment Regulations, in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), an employee who has completed less than three months of service is entitled to at least seven days’ notice, and employees who complete more than three months of service are entitled to at least 30 days. All notices of termination must be supplied in writing.
The amount of severance pay is determined by the length of employment:
- 1-5 years of employment – the employee is entitled to 21 days of wages for each year employed
- 30 days of wages for each additional year after 5 years of service.
The total amount of severance cannot be more than a total of 2 years’ salary.
If the reason for termination is not recognized by UAE law, the employee may be entitled to additional compensation totaling 3 months’ pay.
Pursuant to article 51 of the Labour Law, all UAE private employees, regardless of the reasons for termination, are entitled to an end-of-service gratuity (severance pay) which must be paid to the employee within 14 days of termination. The method of calculation is as follows:
21 days’ basic wages for each of the first five years of service; and
30 days’ basic wages for each subsequent year of service.
UAE and Gulf Cooperative Council nationals are entitled to state pensions and are therefore not entitled to end-of-service gratuities on termination.
In accordance with article 59 of the ADGM Employment Regulations, employees are entitled to end-of-service gratuities, calculated as follows:
21 days’ basic wages for each of the first five years of service; and
30 days’ basic wages for each year of service thereafter.
Pursuant to article 66 of the DIFC Employment Regulations, DIFC employees are entitled to a mandatory workplace savings scheme whereby the end-of-service gratuities for employees are calculated and paid monthly by employers into a workplace savings fund. The rates for these contributions are set out in the Labour Law. Upon termination or resignation of employment, employees may choose to cash out their benefits or leave them to remain invested in the fund, regardless of whether they leave the UAE.
In the UAE, there is one type of work permit. This work permit is often referred to as a labor card. However, employees will need to obtain an entry visa, a residence visa, and an Emirate ID card before they can apply for a work permit.
- The UAE employment permit is valid for 2 years. It allows the individual the right to live and work for the given duration of the permit. If the person is still employed by the company, they can renew the permit.
- The time and cost of processing the permit are assessed by the UAE immigration authorities.
- In order to be eligible for the permit, the individual needs to produce proof of their secured job in the UAE. Some of them need to give qualifications that will be attested by the ministry of foreign affairs.
An employer may employ a foreign worker in the UAE only with the approval of the Labour Department and after obtaining a work permit from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The employer also must obtain a residence visa for the foreign worker from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in the emirate where the worker will live, pursuant to that emirate's requirements, which generally includes the same documentation as the work permit, plus a medical examination from an approved UAE facility.
Employers are required to obtain electronic labor cards and employment contracts for all employees within 60 days of their entrance into the United Arab Emirates.
The Labour Department may not approve the employment of a foreign worker unless its records show that none of the unemployed UAE national employees registered with the Labour Section are qualified for the job. If a UAE worker is not available, preference is then given to Arab workers who are nationals of an Arab country.
Under the Labor Law, a work permit will be granted only if the employee:
- has the professional competence or educational qualifications needed by the UAE; and
- has lawfully entered the UAE and complies with the conditions stipulated by the applicable residence regulations.
Employers may obtain group or individual work permits:
B1 Group Labour Permit
A B1 Group Labour Permit is available to firms that wish to bring in more than 50 foreign workers. The employer must not have any prior labor violations and must submit an application identifying the nationality, profession, sex, and number of workers, plus documents justifying the need for the workers (such as a list of projects, building permits, or contracts). If the group permit is approved, the employer then has six months to submit the workers' individual labor permits. Each worker must have a passport that is valid for at least six months and must be between 18 and 60 years old.
B2 Individual Labour Permit
A B2 Individual Labour Permit may be obtained by an employer that wishes to hire a single foreign worker. The worker must have a passport that is valid for at least six months and be between the ages of 18 and 60, and the profession assigned to the worker in the application must be commensurate with the activities of the employer. Other documents are required depending on the occupation of the worker.
Foreign workers who are between 60 and 65 years old may obtain a work permit only if they work in specific professions, including engineering, medicine, university education, accounting, legal, or other professions approved by the Undersecretary or Assistant Undersecretary.
A work permit granted to a foreign worker may be canceled if:
• the worker is unemployed for more than three consecutive months;
• the worker fails to comply with one of the conditions of the work permit; or
• the Ministry determines that a particular national worker is qualified to replace the foreign worker, in which case the foreign worker may continue to work until the earlier expiration date of his employment contract or work permit.
In addition, a foreign worker who has an employment contract for a limited period and who leaves work without lawful reason before the expiration of that contract may not work elsewhere in the UAE for one year, even with the consent of the former employer.
A foreign worker with an employment contract for an unlimited period who leaves employment prior to the end of the requisite notice period also is banned from working elsewhere in the UAE for one year, even with the consent of the former employer.
In both instances, however, the one-year ban on working does not apply to a foreign worker who obtains prior approval from the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs before obtaining employment from a new employer with the approval of the original employer.
Employee Background Checks
Legal and Background Checks
- The employees entering UAE must produce a conduct certificate given from their home country for receiving their work permit.
- The term "Certificate of Good Conduct" is frequently used in the UAE to describe a criminal history check.
- While most employers do not require these documents as part of the pre-employment background check procedure, some organizations, particularly those handling sensitive information internationally, may still ask for the Certificate of Good Conduct as a means of conducting a criminal record check to lessen the risk of making a poor hire. It is significant to remember that not all hiring choices in the UAE take criminal histories into account.
There are no restrictions on an employer conducting a background check in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as long as the privacy and data protection laws in the relevant jurisdiction are adhered to. This often involves securing the express consent of the employee.
There are no restrictions or prohibitions in the UAE against carrying out background checks on applicants. Employers are entitled to conduct their own background checks or hire a third party to do so, provided that any such checks are conducted in accordance with the provisions of Federal Decree Law No. (45) of 2021 (Data Privacy Law).
The Data Privacy Law requires employers to secure their employees’ specific, clear and unambiguous consent to collect, store and process their personal data in the form of a positive statement of action, subject to the following exemptions:
Processing personal data in order to:
- perform a contract to which the data subject is a party; take actions at the data subject’s request to conclude, amend or terminate a contract; fulfill the data controller’s obligations under applicable laws;
- carry out the obligations and exercise the rights of the data subject; defend a legal claim. The data controller is acting in the public interest. The personal data was made public by the data subject.
Employers in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) are entitled to conduct their own background checks or hire a third party to do so, provided that any such checks are conducted in accordance with the provisions of the DIFC Data Protection Law No. 5 of 2020 (DIFC Data Protection Law).
Employers in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) are entitled to conduct their own background checks or hire a third party to do so, provided that any such checks are conducted in accordance with the provisions of the ADGM Data Protection Regulations 2021 (ADGM Data Protection Regulations).
Last updated on December 31, 2022
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