UAE Employment Contract: A Guide for Expats

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) it is seen as a powerful global business center, with free trade zones designed to encourage foreign investors. So, these zones offer benefits such as 100% international ownership, tax reductions, corporate tax exemptions and assistance with Employment Contract UAE, sponsorship and employee housing.

In this article we talk about the Employment Contract UAE, a Guide for Expats and how to understand the UAE labour law for a legal contract.


The United Arab Emirates (UAE), with its thriving economy and attractive job opportunities, has attracted a large number of expatriates from around the world. If you are considering working in the UAE or have already accepted a job offer, it is essential to understand the key aspects of employment contract in UAE

Importance of employment contracts in the UAE

Employment contracts in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) play a crucial role for both employers and expatriate employees. So, in them we can define the following aspects:

  • Legal compliance and protection:

– Employment contracts UAE set out the minimum working conditions that employers must comply with under the law.

– They provide a legal basis for resolving disputes and protect the rights of employees and employers.

  • Visas and work permits:

– The UAE requires companies to sponsor work visas and residence permits for their expatriate employees.

– The process can be complicated due to geopolitical factors, such as transfer restrictions for employees from certain countries.

  • Financial compensation:

– Contracts specify compensation, which may include more than base salary.

–  Housing and car allowances are also considered part of the indemnity.

  • Unique working hours:

– The work week in the UAE is Sunday through Thursday, with Friday as a day off.

– Professionals must adapt to this difference from Western schedules.

  • End-of-service gratuity:

– Contracts should consider the end-of-service bonus, which accrues as a benefit to employees.

– After one year of service, employees are entitled to a bonus equivalent to 21 days pay for each year of the first 5 years and 30 days for each year thereafter.

Employment contracts UAE ensure legal compliance, protect employees and set the conditions for a successful employment relationship.

Understanding UAE Labor Laws

Understanding UAE Labor Laws

Knowing and understanding the labor laws in the UAE ensures legal employment, protects employees and employers by fostering a fair and safe working environment, Providing:

  • Balance in Labor Relations:

– The laws seek a balance between the parties, allowing both to use their privileges fairly.

– Understanding the regulations helps avoid conflicts and promotes healthy labor relations.

  • Rights and Obligations:

– Laws define the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees.

– This includes issues such as termination, job security and protection against discrimination.

  • Legal Compliance and Protection:

– Labor laws establish the minimum conditions that employers must meet.

– They protect workers’ rights and provide a legal basis for resolving disputes.

Components of a UAE Employment Contract

Employment contracts UAE are fundamental in establishing the terms and conditions of employment between employers and employees. The key components of an employment contract in the UAE are as follows:

  1. Identification of the parties: the contract must specify who the parties involved are: the employer and the employee.
  2. Date of commencement of the contract: This indicates when the employment relationship between the two parties begins.
  3. Duration of the contract: It may be a fixed-term or open-ended contract. It is important to define if the contract has an end date or if it is continuous.
  4. Position or functions of the employee: Describes the responsibilities and tasks that the employee will carry out in his job.
  5. Place of work: Where the employee will work, whether in an office, construction site or other location.
  6. Employee’s salary: Specifies the base salary and any additional components, such as bonuses or commissions.
  7. Method and date of payment: Details how payments will be made (monthly, biweekly, etc.) and when they will be made.
  8. Working hours: Defines working hours, rest days and vacations.
  9. Benefits and benefits: May include health insurance, housing, transportation, among others.
  10. Termination terms: Explains the conditions under which the contract can be terminated, either by resignation, dismissal or mutual agreement.

It is important to know that employment contracts UAE must comply with local regulations and be drafted in a clear manner to avoid misunderstandings between the parties involved.

Types of Employment Contracts in the UAE

There are two main types of employment contracts UAE private sector:

  • Limited Duration Contract:

– This type of contract has a fixed term, although it can be renewed.

– Previously, the maximum duration of a limited duration contract was four years, but due to recent reforms, it is now limited to two years.

– It is common for specific projects or seasons of high demand. Used by temporary staffing companies.

– At the end of the contract, the employer is not required to provide a severance payment.

– If the employee continues to work after the termination date, it is automatically considered an open-ended contract.

  • Contract of Unlimited Duration:

– This contract does not have a specific termination date and is continuous.

– It is more common for permanent employees and long-term roles.

– It provides greater job stability and additional rights, such as severance pay.

– Besides, if the employer decides to terminate the contract, it must provide advance notice and pay severance.

Also, it is important that both employers and employees understand the terms and conditions of these contracts. Moreover, they should be aware of local labor regulations in the UAE.

Limited and Unlimited contracts

Employment contracts UAE are essential to establish the working conditions between employers and employees, and contracts can be limited or unlimited.

Process of Obtaining a Contract:

  • It begins with a “Work Permit” issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MoHRE) to make e mohre labor contract.
  • The work permit allows the holder to enter the UAE to work and is valid for two months.
  • After arriving in the UAE, the sponsoring company completes the formalities, such as medical tests, resident identification card and stamping of the residence visa.
  • By law, all costs related to the work permit are borne by the employer.
  • Employees may sponsor their family members after receiving a visa.
  • If they have a tourist visa, they can obtain a work permit upon leaving the UAE or change their status within the country.

Limited and unlimited contracts offer different levels of job security and both must comply with local regulations.

Comparison Limited/ Unlimited Contracts

Comparing employment contracts UAE, the key differences between limited duration contracts and unlimited duration contracts are as follows:

  • Limited Duration Contracts:

– Specific Term: These contracts have a specified term, generally up to two years due to recent reforms in the UAE (previously it was four years).

– Renewal: They can be renewed, but at the end of the contract, the employer is not required to provide end-of-service severance pay.

– Common use: They are employed for temporary or seasonal projects.

  • Unlimited Duration Contracts:

– Continuous: They do not have a specific end date and are continuous.

– Job stability: Most common for permanent employees and long-term roles.

– Additional rights: Provide greater job security and rights, such as severance pay.

– Advance Notice: If the employer decides to terminate, it must provide advance notice and pay severance.

Compensation and Settlement:

– Financial compensation in the UAE may include more than the base salary. For example, it is broken down into 60% base salary and 40% housing and car allowance.

–  Settlement should also be considered: employees are entitled to an end-of-service bonus based on seniority, which can accrue up to the equivalent of two years’ salary.

Benefits of Limited and Unlimited Contracts

Limited and Unlimited Contracts

In the United Arab Emirates UAE labour contracts changes can be of limited or unlimited duration, offering different advantages.

  • Limited Contracts:

– Flexibility for the employer: These contracts are ideal for specific projects or seasons of high demand. The employer can hire personnel according to the needs of the company without making a long-term commitment. Also, referred to as Temp Staffing

– Less financial risk: By having a predefined end date, the employer knows when the employment relationship will end. This reduces financial risk in the event of changes in the economy or business.

– Facilitates planning: Limited contracts allow for better human resource planning. The employer can adjust the workforce according to work cycles.

  • Unlimited Contract in uae:

– Stability for the employee: These contracts offer long-term job security. Employees do not have to worry about constant contract renewal and can focus on their work.

– Stronger employment rights: Employees with unlimited contracts have stronger rights in terms of severance pay, paid vacation and other benefits. This provides protection against unjustified layoffs.

– Greater employee flexibility: They can change jobs without significant restrictions. In addition, they can also sponsor their family members to live in the UAE.

Limited contracts, however, offer flexibility for the employer. In contrast, unlimited contracts provide stability and strong rights for the employee.

Drafting and Negotiating Employment Contracts

Drafting and negotiating employment contracts UAE is a unique process due to the high proportion of expatriates employed in the country. So, here are some key aspects:

  • Establish a Legal Entity:

– Before sponsoring a work visa, the company must legally register in the UAE. Also, this can take 8 to 12 weeks. Besides, during this period, an employee’s visa cannot be sponsored directly.

– The legal entity is crucial to operate and sponsor visas.

  • Expatriate Visas:

– Companies must sponsor work visas and residence permits for expatriate employees. This can be complicate by the geopolitical climate of the region.

– Currently, the transfer of visas for employees from Egypt and Iran is a sensitive issue.

  • Financial Compensation:

– Compensation includes more than the base salary. Therefore, generally, it is divide into 60% base salary and 40% housing and car allowance. Also, this excludes variable payments such as commissions.

– The salary structure is important in attracting and retaining talent.

  • Working Hours:

-The work week in the UAE is different from the West. Moreover, Friday is the day off, and most professionals also have Saturday off.

– The work week start to Sunday to Thursday.

  • Settlement and End of Service Gratuity:

– When hiring in the UAE, it is essential to budget for the end-of-service bonus. Firstly, after one year of service, employees is entitle to a bonus equivalent to 21 days’ pay for each year of the first 5 years. Also, for each year thereafter, they receive a bonus of 30 days’ pay.

– The maximum settlement is equivalent to two years’ salary.

Drafting and negotiating the employment contracts UAE requires an understanding of local laws, compensation structure and cultural particularities to ensure sound labor relations and compliance with regulations.

Tips and advice for expats

Hiring in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) can be an exciting and challenging process for expats. Here are some essential tips for those seeking job opportunities in this country:

  • Research the Job Market:

– Understand the Demand: Research the industries and sectors that are booming in UAE. Also, fields such as technology, hospitality, construction and finance often offer good opportunities.

– Social Networking and Events: Join professional groups on social networks and attend networking events to meet influencers and gain insight into local companies.

  • Update your Resume and Online Profile:

– Tailor your Resume: Make sure your resume is tailore to the UAE market. Highlight your relevant skills and international experience.

– LinkedIn: Keep your LinkedIn profile updated and look for connections in the region.

  • Use Reliable Employment Platforms:

– Employment Websites: Use employment platforms such as Bayt, GulfTalent, Monster Gulf and other local sites. These platforms often have up-to-date job postings.

– Recruitment Agencies: Register with authorized recruitment agencies to access specific opportunities.

  • Prepare for Interviews:

– Research the Company: Before the interview, it is crucial to thoroughly research the company and its culture. Additionally, during the conversation, make sure to demonstrate your interest and knowledge.

– Dress Professionally: Dress should be conservative and professional.

  • Understand the Working Conditions:

– Benefits Packages: Expatriates often receive generous work packages, including housing, airfare, education for children and more.

– Holidays and Leaves: Make sure you understand holidays, annual leave and sick leave.

  • Meet Legal Requirements:

– Work Visa: Make sure you have a valid work visa before you start working in UAE.

– Health Insurance: Companies are require to provide health insurance to their employees.

So, remember that patience and adaptability are key when seeking employment in a new country.


Expatriate employment contracts in the UAE are essential to establish a solid legal foundation, protect labor rights and ensure a successful work experience in this dynamic and diverse country.

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