Protection of workers’ rights

Laws and initiatives to protect immigrant workers

The UAE is a significant recipient of foreign labour. As a member of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Arab Labour Organization and other labour-focused multilateral organisations, the UAE seeks to work transparently and objectively with regard to its labour obligations.

The UAE has re-evaluated every aspect of working in the country from recruitment to housing, ensuring that all immigrant workers are treated respectfully and able to report instances of mistreatment easily. Charging recruitment fees to prospective employees is illegal in the UAE. The confiscation of workers’ passports is prohibited and workers do not require their employer’s permission to leave the country.

Other reforms for immigrant workers include:

  • implementation of recruitment practices that are compliant with international standards
  • access for all migrant workers to information on their rights and obligations prior to departure and post arrival
  • ensuring safe and decent work conditions for all migrant workers, specifically for domestic workers.

Find out more about worker’s protection in these resources:

Find out in these reports a set of policies and programmes implemented by MoHRE from 2016 onwards and their impact on reforming the labour market:

Online services for immigrant workers

Find out more digital services for immigrant workers on the website of Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

The UAE issued a guide titled ‘Know Your Rights’ to educate the labourers about their rights and obligations. The guide communicates seven key messages to immigrant workers. The messages are:

1.You are expected to sign your employment contract after arriving in the UAE.

2.The costs of the recruitment and travel, as well as the expenses for obtaining your residency permit in the UAE shall be borne by the employer with whom you have agreed to conclude a contract.

3. The terms and provisions of your employment contract must be consistent with the job offer you have signed in your country.

You are expected to:

4. maintain a copy of the job offer you have signed

5. contact Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) promptly, if the employer did not provide you with the agreed-upon job opportunity, or in case you did not receive your salary in full and on time

6. maintain your identification documents in a secure place.

7. You are entitled to leave your job at any time. However, you shall be fully aware of your legal obligations.

Find out more about your rights and obligations as an immigrant worker in the UAE. ‘Know Your Rights’ guide is available in the following languages:

Setting up channels to resolve labour disputes

If an employee has a complaint or a query, he can call MoHRE’s 24-hour toll-free number: 600590000 

The UAE has established offices in courts to provide legal support to workers in labour disputes and labour care units have been established across the UAE to provide protection for workers and raise their awareness on their rights.

Workers are exempt from paying litigation fees for claims less than AED 100,000. Articles 54 and 56 of the ‘UAE Labour Law’ spell provisions for individual labour disputes and collective labour disputes.

Efforts to enhance work conditions for migrant workers and nationals

The UAE made enormous efforts to enhance the work conditions for all employees and create job opportunities. Some of these efforts are:

  • In 2015, the UAE government injected AED 300 billion to foster a knowledge economy, driven by innovation to prepare the UAE for a world after oil
  • It developed several strategies to diversify its national income based on a sustainable economy and to increase work opportunities.

The UAE adopted  Emiratisation programmes which mandate the inclusion of Emiratis in the job sector, particularly in the private sector. The latest was NAFIS, a comprehensive federal programme which includes reforms and financial incentives to drive work opportunities for both: young and experienced Emiratis in the private sector. 

Useful links