Al Tamimi & Company has a preeminent employment practice in the UAE a particularly broad caseload which includes transactional work, day-to-day employee relations and litigation within the public and private sectors. Team head and Dubai-based Samir Kantaria has a strong reputation for both contentious and non-contentious work, being a trusted adviser to multinationals, government entities and large local firms. Gordon Barr is highly experienced in contentious matters and has right of audience before the DIFC courts and Ivor McGettigan leads the Abu Dhabi practice and has a specialism in advising on employment matters in the education sector.
Employment in United Arab Emirates
Al Tamimi & Company
Other key lawyers:
Gordon Barr; Ivor McGettigan
‘Al Tamimi provides high quality advice with practical solutions.’
‘What makes this employment team stand out is that they are quick to respond and assist, and their guidance is easy to understand, practical and actionable.’
‘Gordon Barr is very good at what he does and gives very responsive and practical advice.’
Royal & Sun Alliance
- Instructed by Unilever to support in the Middle East in relation to the divestment of its worldwide tea assets into a newly formed entity “ekaterra”.
- Represented a claimant employee who filed a labour case against SNC-Lavalin UAE before Abu Dhabi Labour Courts requesting the payment of his end of service entitlements under the UAE Labour law inclusive of prior service with SNC Lavalin Inc.
- Instructed by IBM to support in the Middle East in relation to the spin-off of its managed infrastructure services business to “Kyndryl”. The transaction affected some 90,000 employees worldwide who were transferred as a result of the spin-off.
Clyde & Co LLP
Clyde & Co LLP is a market leader in the UAE employment space, fielding a highly experienced team with the capability to handle large volumes of work as well as complex cross-border matters. The practice covers the gamut of employment matters from recruitment and contract termination to incentive plans and bonus schemes, with particular expertise advising on the employment aspects of corporate transactions. The team is led by a number of dedicated employment lawyers, including Rebecca Ford, who is adept at resolving employee disputes whether through internal investigations or court proceedings. Sara Khoja has built a solid reputation among large regional employers and multinational companies for advice on issues involving senior employees. Legal director Samantha Ellaby is a ‘go-to’ contact for education employment matters.
Rebecca Ford; Sara Khoja; Emma Higham
Other key lawyers:
‘The Employment team is strong across the GCC, with experts in the main hubs. They have a solid pipeline of Associates/Legal Directors who can assist the Partners.’
‘If a partner is ever out of the office, a colleague is always able to step in for them and respond quickly. I have always found the Employment team to be extremely knowledgeable, clear with their communications and commercially minded.’
‘Rebecca Ford is always accessible and responsive. Her Employment knowledge across the UAE and region is extensive and she is able to clearly communicate what the law says and how this should be implemented. Rebecca listens to what her clients are asking and answers the question(s) at hand. She is very personable and approachable’
International Cricket Council
Oliver Wyman FZE LLC
ORPEA MIDDLE EAST INVESTMENT LLC
- Advising the International Cricket Council on the departure of Mr Sawhney, following a disciplinary hearing.
- Advising on the acquisition of Booz Hamilton Allen’s Middle East business as an asset purchase with the key asset being the mid and senior employees.
- Advising MRI Software following its acquisition of a UAE entity to integrate this business into its network, working with the US based team to review employment benefits and practices, review their employment contracts and handbook and assist them in making a number of changes in their UAE business, including changing their working week and implementing the new UAE Labour Law.
Pinsent Masons LLP
Pinsent Masons LLP ‘acts as more than just a law firm’ when providing ‘commercial and practical advice’ to Middle East-based businesses, European and major international companies; with specialist employment expertise in the construction and energy sectors. The team is active in all aspects of employment and labour law in the region, with practice head Luke Tapp having a particularly impressive non-contentious practice advising on contract and handbook drafting, as well as employee transfers and terminations. Senior associate Ruth Stephen bolsters the team’s offering, having developed a specialism in the DIFC’s common law employment regime.
Other key lawyers:
‘Pinsent Masons provide employment workshop training for member companies and their employees, as well as pro bono advice. The team are very responsive and provide information in a timely manner.’
‘Luke Tapp is very supportive. The team are experts within their field and are well known in the market as one of the go-to law firms for employment related advice.’
‘The team are responsive, commercial and always give practical advice.’
University of Birmingham
Reed & McKay
Tata Consultancy Services
- Assisted the DMCC Free Zone in advising and implementing a major restructure in respect of the way it remunerates its staff and its compensation structure. Advised on its response to the COVID19 epidemic, both in terms of the way it manages its workforce and its guidance to the companies incorporated within the Free Zone.
- Assisted Costa Coffee with the preparation, drafting and practical application of a number of policies for its global, and in particular UAE workforce.
- Ongoing advice in relation to the new UAE Labour Laws, updating all HR and employment documentation and assistance with day to day UAE employment law queries and advice.
Afridi & Angell operates at the forefront of UAE employment law, with a practice focused on employer-side representation and advising large multinationals on all their employment concerns. Recently, the team has been providing clients with guidance concerning the new UAE Labour Law, which came into effect in February 2022 and represents a significant departure from the previous framework. Practice head Charles Laubach has extensive knowledge of all aspects of UAE and DIFC employment law, spanning compensation schemes, non-compete clauses and workforce reduction programmes. He is supported by Stuart Walker , who handles both employer and employee-side contentious claims.
Other key lawyers:
‘A&A is a no-nonsense firm that provides legal advice on all aspects of UAE law.’
‘What really sets this firm apart from others is that they are extremely practical. Other firms do not take such a fit for purpose approach to providing legal advice.’
DLA Piper’s employment practice continues to advise blue-chip international and regional clients drawn from a broad range of sectors including technology, financial services, retail and entertainment. The team handles the full range of employment matters such as advising on contracts and policies, restructures, sensitive terminations and international harmonisation. Following the retirement of previous head Neil Crossley in June 2022, the practice is now led by Iain Skinner, who has contentious experience of both free zone and onshore labour disputes and tribunals. Senior associate Nadia Akhter regularly handles employment aspects of M&A transactions and employee data privacy issues.
Other key lawyers:
- Enforcing restrictive covenants following a senior employee’s resignation to join a competitor.
- Advising on a global restructure, including workforce reduction and harmonisation of employment terms.
- Conducting investigation into racism and bullying of staff members.
Eversheds Sutherland LLP has developed a strong reputation for the breadth and depth of its employment expertise and is well-versed in handling complex and highly sensitive employment matters including those related to immigration, criminal activity and employee misconduct. Managing partner Geraldine Ahern heads the employment practice from Abu Dhabi; she is highly experienced in the region and has recently been called on to assist clients with implement the UAE’s new Labour Law.
Hadef & Partners LLC
Hadef & Partners LLC‘ employment practice is particularly renowned for its contentious offering and ability to resolve employment-related disputes for blue-chip international clients including Google, Bloomberg and adidas. Rachel Hill heads the team from Dubai and has cemented herself as a leading regional litigator, experienced in a broad range of matters from end of service entitlements to breaches of non-compete and confidentiality clauses. Disputes lawyer Taher Abdeen Ibrahim is heavily involved in employment matters, with senior legal consultant Rami Omar and senior associates Suzanne Gingles and Dilini Loku other key names.
Other key lawyers:
Taher Abdeen Ibrahim; Rami Omar; Suzanne Gingles; Dilini Loku
‘The Hadef team are always pleasant and informative, never steering their client in the wrong direction.’
‘Their advice is always spot on and they guide their clients on how to comply with local employment laws and regulations.’
‘Rachel Hill is an absolute pleasure to deal with, very friendly, down to earth and knows her stuff. Her advice and guidance is well respected and if she says so, then it must be right!’
Adidas Emerging Markets
DWF (Middle East)
- Advised Adidas Emerging Markets on the implementation of the Emiratization programme and restructure of their employment documents in accordance with the new labour law.
- Advised Visa in respect of all employment matters from employee investigations, employment policy and document review and on termination of employment.
KBH Limited has established a strong employment presence in Dubai and the DIFC, acting for both employers and employees on a range of contentious and non-contentious matters. Head of dispute resolution Bushra Ahmed has an extensive employment practice, representing high-net-worth individuals and commercial companies in complex cross-border matters including restrictive covenants and incentive schemes. Senior associate Natasja Pollemans is highly regarded.
Other key lawyers:
‘Despite being a boutique firm, KBH offers excellent legal services to clients, on par with large international firms that operate in the region, in a client-focused manner.‘
KBH has extensive experience in dealing with international matters that have cross-border elements. They have expertise and partners in other jurisdictions and that is why they have been able to successfully undertake high-profile cross-border cases. ‘
‘Bushra Ahmed knows the law inside out across the DIFC and E&W jurisdictions, she has an exceptional eye for detail and is an outstanding litigator; with an incredible energy and hands-on mentality.‘
The employment practice at Squire Patton Boggs focuses on significant high-value mandates throughout Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the wider region. The team has a wealth of experience assisting clients with employment disputes, including representation before mediation and conciliation advisers as well as handling litigation before Labour and DIFC courts. Sarah Lawrence heads the Middle East employment practice; she is adept at handling complex harassment investigations, senior executive appointments and terminations as well restructuring projects. Associate Habib Saeed is another key name.
Other key lawyers:
‘SPB is one of the best and strongest law firms in the market. They have a strong employment section, dealing with major and complex matters.’
‘Sarah Lawrence is a real star. The team has the right balance of local and international expertise, really understanding what businesses need and providing real commercial solutions rather than just legal text.’
‘Sarah Lawrence is the trusted lawyer you call when you have a problem. She is very intelligent, solution driven and commercial.’
‘Habib Saeed is excellent to work with. In addition to employment issues, he has a great handle on data protection laws which means they can provide answers that consider wider issues rather than isolated answers.’
‘Habib Saeed is highly knowledgeable regarding the UAE`s new employment law, providing advice which is very practical and to the point.’
‘Their rates are very competitive.’
Crawford & Co
Day & Zimmermann
Like Digital Limited
Michael Page/Page Group
- Represent Time Warner (Turner Broadcasting and CNN), the leading US-based media conglomerate, providing strategic and legal counsel to this globally-renowned entity across several Middle Eastern jurisdictions.
Stephenson Harwood‘s employment team is regularly sought after by major domestic and international clients across a broad range of sectors, including banking and financial services, retail and hospitality, TMT, pharmaceuticals, and energy. The team is led from Dubai by Kiersten Lucas, who is regarded as one of the pre-eminent employment lawyers in the UAE and brings particular expertise in high-value litigation, whistleblowing investigations, restrictive covenants, and advising C-suite executives. She is supported by newly promoted partner Emily Aryeetey, who advises on all aspects of employment law including related areas of data protection, employee incentives, and financial services regulation.
Other key lawyers:
‘Kiersten Lucas is the star of the UAE employment team. Her many years of international legal expertise along with the deep knowledge of local employment law and its developments puts her in the best position to advise a wide range of clients – from individuals to multinational corporation with cross border employment challenges.’
‘Responsive and thoughtful approach to client needs. Although Dubai-based, they also offer a seamless service in relation to UK employment issues.’
‘Kiersten Lucas is very personable, always responds quickly and manages very capably her production timelines. She is a pleasure to work with.’
Fun Fashion FZCO (a joint venture between Chalhoub Group and Fendi, operating as Fendi Middle East)
Loro Piana SpA
Interoperability Middle East Technology LLC
Maviga DMCC (part of ED&F Man Group)
Trident Trust (I.O.M) Limited
Accord Healthcare MENA
Al Tayer Group
Amplify Marketing Agency DMCC
Arcus Infrastructure Partners
Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP.
Atlas Mara Banking Group
Adenza Group Inc (formerly Axiom SL Group, Inc)
Bank of China
Galderma Middle East
Inspired Education Group
Kaya Skin Clinic
National Oilwell Varco
Peacock Group Holdings
Sentinel Commodities DMCC
Uberbinder, Inc / Uberbinder Limited
- Advising the co-founders and executive management of Somo Global Limited on their personal entitlements and obligations in connection with the sale of Somo to CI&T Inc. (NYSE CINT), a renowned digital specialist for some of the world’s biggest brands, including Johnson & Johnson, AB InBev, Carrefour and Google.
- Advising S&P Global Platts, the leading independent provider of information, analysis, events, and benchmark prices for the commodities and energy markets, on the UAE law data protection aspects of its acquisition of two Middle Eastern flagship energy conferences.
- Advising Al Tayer Group on the impact on its businesses of the new UAE Labour Law (Federal Decree-Law no 33/2021, effective 2 February 2022) and accompanying Executive Regulations, which represent the greatest overhaul to the federal labour law in over 40 years.
Ben Brown is an ‘excellent’ employment lawyer and leads the practice at Addleshaw Goddard, specialising in handling complex and high-value employment disputes for international clients in the financial, legal and professional services sectors. Brown and Gorvinder Pannu have been assisting a large number of clients with navigating the new developments in the UAE Labour Law, which came into force in February 2022 and has required employers to significantly update contracts and HR policies. David True provides additional support.
Other key lawyers:
Gorvinder Pannu; David True
‘The team is highly responsive and very knowledgeable, they are one of the best in the market.’
‘Ben Brown is measured, thoughtful and calm. He’s a very steady hand on difficult litigation.’
‘David True is hugely industrious, highly enthusiastic; a dream player to have on your team.’
‘Ben Brown is an excellent Partner and so are his team members, including David True.’
‘Impeccable delivery with exceptional service.’
‘Ben Brown is very capable, responsive and engaged when dealing with a labour dispute. He is excellent in preparing a case and subsequent hearing, able to rope in appropriate help in different areas of expertise.’
‘Very commercial and responsive.’
‘Ben Brown is excellent. Very personable and great to work with on thorny employment law issues.’
Standard Chartered Bank
Dubai Museum of the Future
The Industrial Group
- Defended Standard Chartered Bank in DIFC Court proceedings brought by a former employee.
- Represented The Industrial Group in the DIFC Court of Appeal
- Advised WeWork on compliance with the new UAE labour law
Dentons utilises the team's ‘excellent knowledge’ to assist clients with employment law developments in the UAE, including the evolution of the region’s labour laws. The team is particularly noted for providing an end-to-end service in relation to labour disputes before local courts. Regional head of employment Shiraz Sethi works with multinational clients across a wide range of sectors, advising on all aspects of employment law including recruitment, restrictive covenants and workplace investigations. Senior legal consultant Catherine Beckett is experienced in non-contentious employment matters and legal manager Ali Al Assaad focuses on employment litigation before the local courts.
Other key lawyers:
Catherine Beckett; Ali Al Assaad
‘Good understanding of client’s needs and always a fast and detailed response.’
‘Shiraz Sethi is a pleasure to work with, she always provides detailed and well thought out advice quickly and with the client’s business in mind.’
‘A firm with significant resources; a strong international reputation, professional approach to client relationships, and client and resolution focused.’
‘They have the relevant legal experience and take a commercial approach to matters.’
‘Shiraz Sethi is highly engaged and experienced in employment matters.’
‘Shiraz Sethi is outstanding’
‘No one is more knowledgeable than Shiraz Sethi on DIFC employment law or better able to help his clients navigate developments and changes in the law. Because he has been working to develop this body of law for so long, he is also well connected and able to get answers to very nuanced questions. His advice is always thoughtful, business-focused and action-oriented.’
Emerging Markets Property Group (EMPG) Holding Limited
Deloitte LLP Dubai
- Retained by Nike to advise and localise its diversity and inclusion policies for the United Arab Emirates.
- Provided employment advice to Flight Safety’s legal and HR team based in the USA specifically in relation to a long-standing employee in the UAE and ensuring compliance with the new UAE Labour Law.
- Retained by Petronas to review and amend its employment documentation (offer letter and employment contract) in light of the newly introduced UAE Labour Law.
Baker McKenzie LLP is highly influential across all commercial and contentious employment matters, with team head Joanna Matthews-Taylor advising clients throughout the Gulf on cross-border issues concerning employee transfers, workforce reductions, restructures and compliance projects.
- Advised a large local public joint stock company operating in the education sector on the acquisition of Jebel Ali School.
The employment team at K&L Gates provides ‘commercially-minded, practical advice that takes into account the intricacies of the law’, complementing an in-depth knowledge of local UAE law with an understanding of the ‘international dimension’ impacting employment issues. Dubai-based Nazanin Aleyaseen oversees a team which covers both advisory work including employment contracts and termination procedures, as well as contentious matters including enforcing restrictive covenants and discrimination claims. Special counsel Mohammad Rwashdeh is highly experienced in employment-related litigation.
Other key lawyers:
‘Commercially-minded, practical advice that takes into account the intricacies of law. Ability to tackle any international dimensions.’
‘They provide excellent, informative and enjoyable client events.’
‘Nazanin Aleyaseen has a striking grasp of detail and ability to keep the big picture in focus, as well as excellent client care.’
Amadeus IT System SA
- Advising Amadeus IT System SA on a range of employment law issues, including rights and obligations under UAE federal labour law, drafting of employment contracts, termination notices, settlement and release agreements, non-compete clauses, end-of-service obligations, sick leave; holiday leave, vacation entitlements, arbitrary dismissals, advice in respect to pensions and GCC nationals, and conditional offers.
- Provided employment counsel and advice to Sinch AB in relation to its acquisition of SAP Digital Interconnect.
Bird & Bird covers the gamut of contentious and non-contentious matters including contract drafting and terminations, HR policies, clauses and investigations. The firm is licensed to appear before the DIFC and ADGM, also providing employment advice in various UAE free zones. Practice head Johannes Eisser and Anders Nilsson have a strong understanding of the UAE market, advising employers on handbooks, executive service and statutory rights. Senior associate Surabhi Singhi is highly regarded.
Other key lawyers:
Anders Nilsson; Surabhi Singhi
‘The team provides advice professionally and from a commercial perspective.’
‘Can easily understand the requirements of clients and provide solutions to suit commercial needs.’
‘Highly ethical, professional and experienced.’
‘Detail oriented, take their time to study and always work on behalf the client.’
Florin Court Capital
ATPI Travel LLC
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP handles a steady stream of complex contentious employment work, including multi-jurisdictional investigations and disputes before local courts, DIFC and ADGM. The practice has a particularly broad sector focus, with team head and of counsel Benjamin Hopps advising on a wide range of issues from service gratuity and bonus schemes to M&A-related employee transfers and terminations. Managing partner Stuart Paterson is a dispute resolution specialist, adept at handling regulatory matters involving employee misconduct.
Other key lawyers:
‘They are very client-friendly and good strategically.’
‘Stuart Paterson is extremely impressive and a pleasure to work with.’
Toll Global Forwarding
Mizuho Gulf Capital Partners
State Government of Victoria, Australia
The employment team at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP has a solid reputation for contentious and advisory work, recently supporting clients with complying with the developments in the UAE employment and immigration regulations. Rebecca Kelly heads both the employment and litigation departments for the Middle East, involved in a large number of complex litigations, investigations and employee terminations. Mark Gilligan handles employment work as an extension of his corporate practice, advising on employment policies and agreements as well as redundancies and terminations.
Other key lawyers:
‘Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP are a go-to Firm for all employment matters. Their expertise is excellent with very good responsiveness.’
‘Their advice is succinct and they grasp issues arising very quickly.’
‘They have understanding, compassion, fairness and humour – underpinned by excellent knowledge and skills. Rebecca Kelly is an outstanding partner.’
‘Morgan Lewis are always on-point, practical and pragmatic in their employment advice. They are comprehensive in their analysis without being too theoretical.’
‘Rebecca Kelly is an outstanding lawyer who is instrumental when giving advice in complex cases, helping clients understand the issue and resolving it in the best way possible.’
PwC Legal Middle East
PwC Legal Middle East continues to expand its employment offering throughout the UAE, acting for a particularly broad array of clients from the financial services, technology and energy sectors. Natalie Jones, who leads the team and was promoted to director in January 2022, is particularly experienced in the employment aspects of multi-jurisdictional corporate transactions, from restructurings and asset swaps to complex employee investigations.
Emirates Water & Electricity Company
Emirates CAE Flight Training
PwC Middle East
Barilla Middle East
Harvard Business School Publishing
The Metals Company
Adidas Emerging Markets LLC
- Advised the Department of Energy, Emirates Water & Electricity Company and TRANSCO on the employment aspects of a carve out of part of TRANSCO’s business to EWEC.
- Advising Harvard Business School on the employment considerations related to the setting up of its global employing company in the UAE from which it intends to manage a portion of its workforce across the globe.
- Advised Orix Aviation Systems Ltd in relation to the employment aspects of establishment in the DIFC.