New legal framework will encourage more part-time work in UAE

Out-Law Analysis | 18 Apr 2018 | 10:51 am | 2 min. read

ANALYSIS: The creation of a new legal framework for part-time work in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will encourage more employers to offer this type of contract, while giving individuals more freedom to work for shorter hours or in multiple roles.

In Western jurisdictions, part-time and flexible working arrangements are a fundamental part of the workforce, and offer employers a significant incentive to use to recruit and retain talented employees. Few employers in the UAE currently offer their employees these arrangements.

The entry into force of Ministerial Decision No. 31 of 2018 (MD No 31) at the beginning of March 2018 may change that. MD No 31 creates a legal framework enabling employers to legally employ and visa sponsor part-time employees, and permits those part-time workers to be employed by more than one UAE employer at any time.

The implementation of MD No 31 is a fantastic development for both UAE employers and employees. It supports employers who only require and only have budget to recruit part-time employees, and it also supports UAE nationals and expats who only wish to work for shorter hours or would like to have more than one role.

This development is a win-win for all parties, and we would certainly encourage employers to consider creating roles for part-time employees within the UAE.

Detail of the new regime

MD No 31 applies to either UAE nationals or expats who are skilled first and second tier workers in the UAE only. This covers individuals who hold a university degree or higher, or who have completed a diploma in any technical or scientific field.

To work part-time, employees must obtain a part-time work permit from the UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) and be engaged on a new standard form part-time employment contract.

MD No 31 distinguishes between 'primary' employers and 'secondary' employers. Primary employers are responsible for all the costs associated with sponsoring the part-time employee and must also provide the employee with their end of service gratuity, annual leave and any other statutory benefits provided by the UAE Labour Law No 8 of the Year 1980 (UAE Labour Law).

Secondary employers are required to pay salary for the hours worked and cover the costs associated with the part-time work permit. Secondary employers are not legally required to provide any other statutory benefits under the UAE Labour Law, although they can of course provide any of these benefits on a discretionary basis.

Significantly, the primary employer is not required to provide a no-objection certificate (NOC) before the part-time employee can work for secondary employers. It is not possible for either a primary or a secondary employer to prevent an employee from working elsewhere, even for a competitor, unless a court order is obtained. The employee simply needs to obtain permission from the MOHRE.

A part-time employee must work a minimum of 20 hours per week for the primary employer and is then free to work additional hours for other employers, provided that the total working hours do not exceed eight hours per day or 48 hours per week. Working hours may be increased to 60 hours per week in exceptional circumstances, provided that the employee is given at least one day per week off.

Luke Tapp and Andrea Hewitt-Sims are Dubai-based employment experts at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com.