Legislative Changes Needed in Current UAE Labor Law


The UAE labour law has many errors and omissions, which need to be revised in order to benefit all stakeholders. The UAE relies mostly on cheap labor from countries in South Asia and other regions in the world. Therefore, the labor laws need to be revised to suit every person in the region. The proposed reforms and changes will have a great impact in the society and help to benefit many people. The changes will also help to protect many workers and labor unions, which will fight for the rights of all people who have been employed by the UAE government. This paper will analyze the proposed changes and the reforms, which are needed to protect the rights of workers in UAE.

The Legislative changes required

To begin with, several omissions have been included in the UAE labor laws that need to be corrected for the benefit of all people. Some of the areas, which require changes include the exclusion of all the workers in the government having to bargain collectively; the banning of strikes and any form of go slows in the workplace and the lack of including specific workers in the region, for instance laws for domestic workers. Secondly, there is also an ambiguity, which concerns the minimal age of getting formal employment in the country, the absence of laws against confiscation of important identification documents. Furthermore, the labor law should also charge penalties on those who have failed to obey the rule of the law (Van, 2009).

The 2006 commonwealth report shows that in the UAE, there are increased cases of worker exploitation and lack of respect of the sovereign, human rights. This is what has made many workers to be discriminated in terms of employment rights. Some of the highlighted issues in the UAE labor law included the abuse of workers, wages and remuneration, which was below standards and withdrawal of wages and salaries at certain times of the year. In order to prevent the workers from quitting their jobs, most of the UAE employees usually confiscate the passports and the documents belonging to the people working in those countries. When all these cases were added up together, it was found that the UAE employment mostly entails forced labor. The report also showed that there were increased cases of deaths and injuries of workers who were in the production sectors (Terterov, 2006).

When all cases of the forced labor were analyzed deeply, it was found that there was laxity of the government in the formation of laws, which help to supervise the employment rights. The labor laws are important because they help to enforce and regulate the conduct of the employees in the region. Additionally, investigation to the cases of forced labor also found that the UAE has failed to document a transparent and accessible system, which helps to implement the labor laws and policies governing employment. In addition, the government has also failed to improve the workers’ conditions by restricting any form of strike within the country, which involves labor (Rigby, 2003).

Studies by human rights groups also show that there is increased abuse of the domestic workers due to lack of protection. The employment and labor agents have been forced to do labor with no payment even for a period of one year. This is also characterized by working in late hours and facing all forms of abuse in the workplace. The government of UAE is aware of all these evils. However, it has failed to take any action, which will help to protect workers from exploitation. Moreover, the ministry of labor in UAE has also failed to take any considerable action regarding the form of labor in the country. Even the existing policies are not fully enforced by the law enforcement agencies (International Business Publications, 2007).

The right of freedom and collective bargaining

This is the first recommended change, which needs to be amended in the UAE labor law. This law will help many stakeholders to bargain collectively and ensure that there is the formation of free and independent unions, which are able to champion and serve as watchdogs for the labor rights across the country. In addition, the unions should be given powers to represent the workers in all spheres of employment. This also entails giving the unions the right to full representation and allowance to draw up policies governing the conduct of the workers in the workplace. They should also be given the freedom to have fair elections of their representatives and agents to work all over the country (Golub, 1997).

The right of collective bargaining should also help all the workers regardless of their citizenship to join any union, which shall help him/her to fight for his/her legal rights. They should also be given the right and freedom of participating in the elections of their leaders. This helps to give the workers a sense of belonging and a right to work without fear and intimidation from their employers. The employees who have been abused or have a feeling that their bosses are not caring for their welfare will be able to report this to their labor unions (Foner, 1992).

The UAE government should also amend the labor laws and give the workers a right to bargain collectively. This helps to improve the international standards of employment, which help workers to bargain the form of employment they want and give them the right of representation in the government. This law should also prevent the restriction of negotiation terms on utmost good faith. In fact, this should also be extended to the federations of labor and confederations, which will help employees to achieve good employment through mutual agreement with the employees. This will also help employers to have the right workers for their firms and provide them with the right conditions of employment (Flanagan, 2003).

The international human rights law recognizes the rule of collective bargaining by workers through identification of the best practices, which are important for employment. Furthermore, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also recognizes the right of each individual to form a trade union to protect his or her interests in matters of employment. The international bill of rights contains a charter, which elaborates the importance of formation of a trade union. In spite of the fact that the UAE is a member of the international community, there is a lack of sovereign protection of its employees even in the workplace (Ebrary, 2004).

The lack of a body to fight for the employment rights prevents the employees from organization and bargaining their contracts on time. The UAE government has denied its employees the fundamental rights of forming unions thus preventing them from bargaining their workplace concerns at a national level. Consequently, the workers cannot highlight their grievances to the government because they lack for a platform of communication, which they can use to communicate their grievances to the right bodies. There should be structural reforms in the form of giving workers the right to have a legal body, which will be used as a vehicle of channeling their issues to the government through the ministry of labor (Soohoo, 2010).

The right to strike

The UAE Labor law should also be changed to pave the way for the workers to have legal demonstrations and strike. Amendment of the labor law will help the workers to conduct a formal strike, and be given the procedures of performing the exercise. Some of the rules, which shall govern the right to strike, include the procedures to exercise the right, the rules of notification and strike voting. In this respect, the arbitration rights should also be governed to ensure that there is collective bargaining and strike, which should be carried out formally. In line with this, Articles 155 and 166 should be changed to pave the way for the workers to strike in a formal manner (Cheyney, 2003).

The right of the workers to abscond the workplace and to strike is fully recognized by the international law. The basic and the essential element of all the trade unions are the ability to have a formal strike (Cheyney, 2003). Several international law experts recognize this fact. Particularly, the international labor organization committee is one of the teams, which recognize the right to have a strike. On the contrary, Article 162 of international labor law prevents any form of a work stoppage in the form of a strike. The article defines that disputes should be solved by workers according to the management’s requirement and that no strike will be legally recognizable in times of a dispute (Cheyney, 2003).

The UAE labor law is very strict on immigrants who engage in any form of a strike or disputes, which prevent employees from working normally. The UAE has gone against the international norms and standards by restricting immigrants from striking even if they have disputes in the workplace. In fact, the government has also taken tough measures to deport the immigrants who have any form of strike in the workplace. The prohibition of the workers to engage in strike also limits their ability to be defended by trade unions and other federations. This is because the decision of the government is always final and cannot be amended by any other body. The government of UAE should thus change the articles and pave way for the workers to strike and air their grievances in the concerned bodies. This will show respect to the international community (Alexander, 2003).

Repeal of worker exclusions

The proposed amendment in the UAE labor law should also be enhanced to open up for the exclusions in the laws. Some of the exclusions in the labor laws and policies include lack of enough security to the domestic workers (Butler, 2010). These workers should be given right to have enough security, which concerns their life. There have been many cases of workers dying in the workplace and this should be curbed through implementation of policies, which help to protect these workers. The security of an individual is of utmost importance. This security can be guaranteed through having insurance policies, which help to protect the employees through issue of insurance covers on their health and other means (Butler, 2010).

The UAE government should stop its overreliance on the insurance covers to protect the sovereign rights of the workers. The government should step up and provide new measures and policies, which govern the conduct of the employees and employers in the workplace. Adequate follow up through government agents who will monitor the conduct and the welfare of the domestic workers, should be strategically placed in different places. This will help in the implementation of policies and procedures. Additionally, this will also help to stop the impunity from the government and enforce the rule of the law (Basu, 2003).

The existing laws of labor have a discriminatory impact on the lives of many. The exclusion of the labor laws, which help to govern the welfare of the citizens and many individuals in the society, has negatively affected the welfare of many people in the society. The discrimination of the workers has left many people jobless even in the country where there are rules affecting the conduct of people in the society. The exclusion of these laws does not have a reason, which is legitimate. On the other hand, the inclusion of these policies in the government is more beneficial than its absence Therefore, the government and the legal making bodies should consider the inclusion of these laws to help people and the government (Berkowitz, 2008).

Changes in the restriction of movement

There should be legislative reforms, which help to govern the freedom of movement among the workers in UAE. The current UAE labor laws have many restrictions of movement of foreign workers from one region to another (Ebrary, 2004). These restrictions have been stipulated in the constitution and in the labor laws. These restrictions also entail the prevention of workers from moving from one location to the other. The international law is very clear on the freedom of movement as long as the person has the right documentation and identity. This helps to prevent many people in the society from engaging in forceful acts and preventing them from moving from one location to the other (Ebrary, 2004).

On the international law, it is unlawful to confiscate documents belonging to other people who have come to ask for a formal employment. In fact, travel documents and employment contracts should be kept by the employees because they are personal and individual entities. There should be measures governing the international law and the conduct of people in the society. The documents help the employees to have the advantage over the workers because they have already confiscated the most essential documents, which are important for the conduct of individuals in the society. Exploitation of the workers is also evident in the confiscation of the documents because they prevent the workers from having the freedom of movement.

The government of the UAE has the mandate to prevent the discriminative practices as this helps to improve the welfare of the employees in the workplace. The government should come up with measures, which protect employees from being used by their employers. Penalties, which are both financial and criminal, should also be input to prevent employees from violating the rule of law. In fact, criminals who violate these laws should also be held by the hand of the law to prevent them from incurring any damage to the existing laws.

Penalties from violation of the law

Some of the proposals amendments, which help to improve the rule of the law, include the provision of penalties, which help to prevent any individual from having unlawful conduct. International law requires remedy in case of a violation of critical law. There should also be an increase in the penalties imposed, as well as, fines charged on the people who break the law. The positive obligations, which help to protect the conduct of individuals in the society, are important for the general behavior of people in the society (Golub, 1997).

There should also be appropriate remedies and measures, which prevent people from violating the rule of conduct. Establishment of sanctions, which help to improve the performance of the employees in the work place, should also be of utmost priority. This is because such deterrent measures help people to work efficiently to apprehend the rule of law. The international community should also provide appropriate sanctions, which help to implement the rule of the law in many countries. There should also be a commitment by the government to impose policies and measures, which help to improve the rule of law.

The penalties for failure to follow up the employment contracts should be of utmost priority. In addition, there are also other changes, which should be implemented in the labor laws (Ewing, McColgan, and Collins, 2005). These changes include the definition of the legal working hours in which employees should work. If there is an increase in the working hours, the salaries should also be increased.

There should also be changes in the disciplinary amendments, which include having warnings, and fines where a worker has misbehaved. This helps to ensure that employees have corrected their behavior. Secondly, suspension of the employees is also another important thing, which should be promoted among people in the society. Article 101 of the UAE labor laws does not specify the general conduct of individuals in the society and this should be corrected to help the improvement of accommodation and the welfare of the employees in the society (Ewing, McColgan, and Collins, 2005). The labor ministry should also be able to specify the general requirements of the employees and improve their welfare in the workplace. Heavy fines should also be imposed on employees who mistreat their workers and who fail to provide the required conditions of the workplace.

Prevention deception and restriction

The current UAE laws do not prevent employees from being deceived and restricted from accessing their documents. In this view, the employers cheat the foreign workers that they are going to offer them jobs, which are well paying. Many employees end up being restrained from movement and from even accessing their general freedom of movement and association. This should not be the case as most of the employers have the knowledge that there exists a gap between the laws and people. Most of the employers lie about the salaries of their prospective workers, the remuneration, and the wages, which they are going to receive in the end. This lures the employees and foreigners to jump into these jobs forgetting that the employers want to achieve a selfish end (Alexander, 2003).

The UAE government should thus move with speed and implement laws and policies, which govern the conduct of people in the society. This will help to improve the working conditions of the employees and help to foster positive amendments. The government should also be concerned with the welfare of its workers. On this perspective, there should be workers who are involved in the functioning of the government. The workers should not be restricted from engaging in the unions as this denies them the freedom of movement and association. It also prevents the workers from having the basic human rights, which are also applied in the work place (Van, 2009).

Issuance of Leaves

It is important that workers are given time to rest after working for a certain period. The labor laws require that employees be granted about 30 days each year away from work duties. This also in accordance to the ILO, which requires leaves for employees. It is also important that the expectant female employees be given maternity leaves in addition to other needs of the workers.


In summation, it can therefore be concluded that the UAE Labor laws contain certain errors and omissions, which prevent the general conduct of the employees in the workplace. As such, it is important to have these laws revised and amended to conform to the international requirements of labor. Additionally, these changes are also required to ensure the comfort of employees in their work places. Some of the proposed changes include having the right to strike among others. This will help the employees to highlight their grievances. Other changes that ought to be made include freedom of association, workers exclusions to be repealed, improvement of the welfare of the domestic worker, provision of the penalties for not adopting and implementing the labor laws, prevention from deception and restriction by workers and forced labor.

Reference List

Alexander, N. (2003). Dubai investment & business guide. Washington, DC: International Business Publications.

Basu, K. (2003). International labor standards: History, theory, and policy options. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.

Berkowitz, P. M. (2008). International labor and employment law: Vol. 2. Chicago, Ill: Section of International Law, American Bar Association.

Butler, W. E. (2010). International law in comparative perspective. Alphen aan den Rijn: Sijtoff & Noordhoff.

Cheyney, A. S. (2003). The International Labor Organization. Philadelphia.

Ebrary, Inc. (2004). Monitoring international labor standards: Techniques and sources of information. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Ewing, K., McColgan. A., and Collins, H. (2005). Labour Law, Cases, Texts and Materials. Oxford: Hart Publishing

Flanagan, R. J., & Gould, W. B. (2003). International labor standards: Globalization, trade, and public policy. Stanford, Calif: Stanford Law and Politics.

Foner, P. S. (1992). History of the labor movement in the United States: 1. New York: Internat. Publishers.

Golub, S. S. (1997). International labor standards and international trade. Washington, D.C.: International Monetary Fund, Research Dept.

International Business Publications, USA. (2007). Doing Business and Investing in United Arab Emirates Guide. Intl Business Pubns USA.

Rigby, C., & Ebrary, Inc. (2003). Monitoring international labor standards: National legal frameworks: summary of a workshop. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Soohoo, C. (2010). Bringing human rights home. Westport, Conn: Praeger.

Terterov, M. (2006). Doing business with the United Arab Emirates. London: GMB.

Van, E. B. (2009). United Arab Emirates: “the island of happiness: exploitation of migrant workers on Saadiyat island, Abu Dhabi. New York, NY: Human rights watch (HRW).