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German Legal Expertise in the Middle East since 1981

New Rules and Changes on the UAE-Labour Market

Guiding Principles

Starting from January 1st, 2011 several changes took place by the Ministry of Labour issuing new rules for labour and resident permits and the opportunity to switch employers more easily. The following Article will show the recent amendments to the UAE-Labour Law which became effect with the new year 2011.

I. Validity of Residence and Work Permit decreased to two years
A cabinet decision at the end of 2010 reduced the validity of the residence visa and therewith the validity of the work permits for all employees in the private sector from formerly three years to two years. This new rule was implemented in January 2011.

This new decision is in effect starting from January 1st, 2011 and applies only for visa which will be applied from January 2011 onwards. Visa’s already issued before January 2011 (including family visa and husband/wife sponsored visa) are still valid for three years. Only when it comes to the renewal of the residence and work permit, the renewed visa will have a validity of only 2 years.

II. Non-Objection Certificate requirement removed
As part of the ongoing reforms in the labour market, the Ministry of Labour introduce starting from January 1st, 2011 a new regulation that foreign workers whishing to change their jobs do not require a Non-Objection Certificate (NOC) and approval anymore from their former employer. With Ministerial Decision No. 1186 of 2010 employee will have the right to change jobs without facing a six-month ban and without the need of a Non-Objection Certificate in the following cases:

  • The employment contract ends or is terminated mutually and the employee worked for at least 2 years;
  • The Employer fails to comply with his legal or contractual obligations;
  • Expiry of a work relationship where the termination is due to economic or legal issue.


In case one of the above mentioned cases applies, a new work permit will be granted without considering and facing the six-month ban.

An exception to this new rule are employees employed under a limited employment contract where the agreed contract period is more than 2 years. Where an employment contract is entered on a fixed term, it cannot be terminated or breached by the employee on the grounds that they have completed two years of service. If those employees are called to cancel their labour permit they will be subject to a one-year ban according to the terms of the contract. In case the employment contract is entered for an unlimited period and the employee completed two years with the same employer, these employees will be free to change their jobs without objection.

January, 2011 Hanka Jahn
  Meyer-Reumann & Partners – Dubai Office
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