UAE private sector equal pay law now in force

Out-Law News | 06 Oct 2020 | 1:07 pm | 1 min. read

The UAE has updated its labour law to require equal pay for men and women who perform "the same work" or work of "equal value".

The updated UAE Labour Law No. 8 of 1980 took effect on 25 September, and is intended to strengthen the UAE's 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 (MoHRE). It is understood that market standards will be used as a reference in wage assessments.

Employment law expert Luke Tapp of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: "The UAE government and the Gender Balance Council have been proactively seeking to improve and develop gender equality within the UAE for the past few years and the introduction of this new wording to the UAE Labour Law is another example of the authorities implementing real and significant change to the legislation".

Ruth Stephen

Associate

The immediate next step for companies and their legal and HR teams is to review their pay scales, pay policies and actual payroll to ensure they are achieving pay equality across all levels of their workforce.

"There has always been the principle of equal pay within the UAE Labour Law but this development indicates that the authorities will be more proactive with the monitoring and enforcement of equal pay within the private sector workforce," he said.

Employment law expert Ruth Stephen of Pinsent Masons said: "The new wording indicates that MoHRE will work with the government to develop the procedures and standards that will be used to properly implement this very real public policy and government objective of achieving equal pay between the genders. The immediate next step for companies and their legal and HR teams is to review their pay scales, pay policies and actual payroll to ensure they are achieving pay equality across all levels of their workforce," she said.

The new wording appears as some updated wording to Article 32 of the UAE Labour Law of 1980, the main legislation governing employment relationships in the UAE private sector.

Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, president of the UAE Gender Balance Council, said that the change "will undoubtedly boost the social inclusivity of women, support their role in national development, and advance the UAE's status on the world's Gender Equality Index".

The Gender Balance Council was established in 2015 with the aim of increasing the UAE's ranking on the United Nations Development Programme's Gender Inequality Index. The UAE currently ranks first in the Gulf region and 35th globally for gender equality.

Earlier this year, the UAE became the first Arab country to grant paid parental leave to all private sector employees. Male employees are now entitled to five days paid leave in the six months following the birth of a child.