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Employment & Immigration
Many businesses appear to be more optimistic about the economic opportunities ahead in 2021. However, with news of a more virulent COVID-19 strain spreading internationally and a continuing impact on business travel, client meetings and office attendance, companies and HR managers must continue to be proactive, mindful and practical in relation to their workforce management. This article discusses five key areas of concern for businesses and the associated practical considerations.
Major changes have been made to employment law in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). The changes aim to strengthen the ADGM's employment framework and its reputation as an international financial centre. This article highlights the main employment law themes of which senior management teams, HR managers and in-house legal teams must be aware under the changes.
The United Arab Emirates has updated its labour law to require equal pay for men and women who perform the same work or work of equal value. The change aims to strengthen the United Arab Emirates' commitment to gender equality in the workplace, according to a government press release. What counts as work of 'equal value' will be based on guidance and further details set by the government, following the recommendations of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.
When the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Data Protection Law came into force, it gave organisations a three-month grace period until 1 October 2020 to ensure compliance with the new provisions. The new Data Protection Law makes significant changes to the DIFC's existing data privacy regime, introducing changes to the duties and obligations of employers – in their capacities as data controllers – to their employees when processing their personal data.
Following a change in the law, employees of businesses which operate in the United Arab Emirates are now entitled to five working days' paid parental leave in the six months following the birth of their children. The new law will support families in achieving a better balance at home, which will in turn assist companies in achieving a better level of equality in the workplace. Therefore, it is a win for families, working parents and companies.
When a complaint from an employee cannot be resolved and a formal claim is filed, the procedure that will be implemented will be affected by a number of variables – not least whether the employer is located in the Dubai International Financial Centre, onshore mainland Dubai or another UAE free trade zone. Companies based in Dubai should be aware of the likely cost and time implications of defending employment disputes in the courts, along with the applicable laws and processes.
As the current COVID-19 lockdown restrictions start to ease, businesses in the United Arab Emirates have begun allowing employees to return to the workplace. However, the business landscape that businesses now face is very different to just a few months ago. This article outlines employers' obligations during the next phase of business from an employment law perspective, including with regard to the reopening of businesses and protecting employee health and safety as they look to adapt to this new normal.
Employers have been given scope to restructure contracts with their employees to adapt to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic under a temporary new emergency law introduced in the Dubai International Financial Centre. Under the new legislation, employers can unilaterally decide to reduce employee working hours and remuneration on a temporary basis and make further changes to work practices and employee benefits.
Authorities in the United Arab Emirates have published new guidance and legislation to support private sector employers against the unprecedented backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. This article examines two resolutions which cover redundancy restructuring and remote working and come at a time when guidance and clarity is more important than ever.
This article answers key questions relating to pensions, such as whether employees commonly participate in private pension schemes established by their employer. Further, if an employee is transferred as part of a business acquisition, is the transferee obliged to honour existing pension rights or provide equivalent rights?
Share or asset sales can significantly affect employees, particularly with regard to dismissal. This article answers the key questions that all employers should consider when undertaking a share or asset sale, including whether employers must consult with employees beforehand and what protections employees have against dismissal in the context of a share or asset sale.
There is no definition of 'whistleblowing' under UAE law and, until recently, there were no laws specifically providing for whistleblower protection. Historically, the Penal Code has placed a positive obligation on all persons to report crime, but this reporting requirement is difficult to enforce. However, recent changes to UAE law have gone some way to encourage employees to escalate and report corporate wrongdoing.
The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) recently introduced new insolvency and employment laws. In an insolvency context, the key employment law change has been the review of the statutory end-of-service gratuity regime, which will be replaced with a defined contribution pension scheme. This article examines the DIFC insolvency regime in the context of employment relationships and considers what impact the proposed new pension regime will have in practice.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation recently announced that private companies in the United Arab Emirates may now employ men who have been sponsored by their families on a dependant visa. The ministry has already begun issuing two-year work permits to eligible men sponsored by their families according to the announcement. Until now, only women sponsored by their families were entitled to work. Men were entitled to a work permit only if covered by their employer's visa allocation.
The new Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Employment Law has now been published and will come into force on 28 August 2019. This article discusses what this means for employers in the DIFC and the impact of the key changes being introduced. DIFC employers should familiarise themselves with the new law and ensure that their employment contracts, policies and business practices are in line with the new regime.
Redundancy is a sensitive and challenging topic in any jurisdiction. For companies operating in the United Arab Emirates, the issue is particularly complex as the UAE Labour Law does not set out any express statutory definition of 'redundancy' or 'redundancy procedure'. A company which fails to engage in a reasonable process or retain sufficient evidence to support a dismissal will always face an element of risk.
After a busy 12 months for the development of labour laws in the United Arab Emirates, the authorities look set to continue to focus on modernisation efforts in 2019. The reforms focus on, among other things, employment law, gender equality and multiculturalism, with the authorities announcing 2019 as the 'Year of Tolerance'.
The UAE authorities have been focusing on the development and modernisation of the employment law landscape over the past 12 months and look set to continue to do so in 2019. Of particular note is that 2019 has been declared the 'Year of Tolerance', with a particular focus on establishing the United Arab Emirates as a global reference point for a tolerant culture. Further, the authorities are expected to continue to consult on legislation to support women in the workplace in the short to medium term.
In collaboration with the courts, the Abu Dhabi Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation recently launched a summary court to complement the One Day Labour Court. The new court is designed to speed up the process of litigating labour-related matters, including issues relating to the return of a passport or an emirates ID card, health insurance, accommodation and the cancellation of work visas. However, this fast-track system is designed to consider straightforward disputes only.
Non-cash employee benefits can create a value added tax (VAT) headache for businesses. Even fully taxable businesses in the United Arab Emirates may find that VAT recovery is blocked for certain activities. Further, even if input VAT is recoverable on the cost of the benefit, providing it to employees may trigger an obligation to account for VAT on the deemed supply of the benefit to the employee. For many benefits, the VAT treatment will vary depending on the circumstances.
The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has been reviewing and undertaking consultation on an entirely new Employment Law throughout most of 2018. The proposed amendments are likely to have a significant impact on key elements of the existing Employment Law and on employment relationships within the DIFC in general.
The gig economy is developing and expanding worldwide and has already had an impact on the UAE regulatory framework. Moreover, it is likely to become more central to the landscape of employee and workforce relationships within the next five to 10 years. It is certainly an area that in-house legal teams, HR professionals and senior managers should pay close attention to in the short to medium term.
Part-time and flexible working arrangements are a fundamental part of workforces in western jurisdictions and serve as a significant incentive that employers can use to recruit and retain their talented employees. While these arrangements are not currently offered by many employers in the United Arab Emirates, this may be about to change in light of a significant statutory development. This development is a win-win for all parties, and businesses should consider creating roles for part-time employees.
There is a huge amount of uncertainty and misunderstanding surrounding the legal approach to redundancies and restructures in the United Arab Emirates. Redundancies were particularly prevalent during the 2008-2009 crash and the more recent oil price slump in 2015-2016. During those periods, many UAE employers received judgments against their businesses after they failed to understand or comply with the legal position and expectations of the local courts when undertaking internal processes.