Employment in United Arab Emirates

Al Tamimi & Company

Al Tamimi & Company’s ‘knowledgeable and responsive group’ ranks among the largest employment practices in the region. Highlights included Ivor McGettigan advising GE Power on the Middle East employment aspects of its sale of GE Water & Process Technologies to Suez. On the contentious side, department lead Samir Kantaria represented Gulf Bridge International in a claim concerning dual employment rights. Gordon Barr is also noted.

Clyde & Co LLP

A ‘solid tier-one firm’, Clyde & Co LLP’s comprehensive employment practice impresses with its ‘very knowledgeable and solution-focused approach’. Sara Khoja, valued for her ‘ability to speak in business language’, recently advised Red Bull on employment arrangements in Iran. Rebecca Ford (‘a senior specialist’) and legal director Ben Brown (‘really worth his salt’) are also recommended.

Afridi & Angell

Afridi & Angell earns praise for its ‘impressive response times’ and ‘accurate advice’. The team is particularly prized for its record in contentious work, with recent cases involving harassment, confidential information and unfair dismissal. It also handles transactional and advisory issues. Group head Charles Laubach and regulatory expert Stuart Walker are recommended.

DLA Piper Middle East LLP

The ‘very solid’ DLA Piper Middle East LLP is recognised for its broad regional offering, drawing on support from offices in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain. Neil Crossley, who heads the Middle East employment practice, advised a global medical devices company on regional employment matters, including all onboarding for a new entity in the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Free Zone.

Eversheds Sutherland LLP

Eversheds Sutherland LLP boosted its group with the hire of ‘very capable’ principal associate Sarah Anderson from Hadef & Partners LLC. Commercial head Geraldine Ahern, who handles a broad range of employment and immigration matters, remains the key contact and represented a global company in an employment termination case.

Hadef & Partners LLC

Hadef & Partners LLC, best known for its strength in contentious work, is particularly active for clients within the financial services, real estate, construction and energy sectors. In an example of its litigation sweet spot, it acted for Atlas Mara Management Services in the dismissal of its chief executive officer. In 2018, department head Jamie Liddington left for an in-house position at Amazon, while Sarah Anderson joined Eversheds Sutherland LLP. Rachel Hill, who recently arrived from Al Tamimi & Company, now heads the practice.

K&L Gates

K&L Gates’ diverse practice routinely assists regional and global employers with a broad scope of compliance, contentious and transactional support matters. Department head Nazanin Aleyaseen advised Gehry Technologies on several recent issues, including termination and severance obligations.

KBH Kaanuun

Referral favourite KBH Kaanuun, acts for both employers and employees, with peers highlighting it as 'a top choice to represent individuals against big banks’. Litigator Bushra Ahmed acted for a former chief executive officer of a bank in bringing a claim against his former employer.

Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla

Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla’s practice, which acts for an impressive roster of multinational clients, houses two distinct advisory and litigation units. Senior associate Joanna Matthews-Taylor heads the department and advised Suez on the local employment aspects of its $3.4bn global acquisition of GE Water & Process Technologies.

Pinsent Masons LLP

A ‘stand-out employment practice’, Pinsent Masons LLP blends ‘impressive technical knowledge with pragmatism and commercialism’. In particular, department head — and newly promoted partner — Luke Tapp is ‘responsive, collaborative and solutions oriented’; he advised a global pharmaceutical client on restructuring its Middle East business.

Squire Patton Boggs

Squire Patton Boggs stands out for its 'good regional coverage'. Middle East employment head Sarah Lawrence, who is 'responsive, practical and efficient', advises on a wide range of labour, employment and immigration law, with notable expertise in senior executive appointments and terminations, transactional support matters and cross-border issues. Clients include AXA Insurance (Gulf) and Rockwell Collins.

Addleshaw Goddard

Addleshaw Goddard’s group is led by legal director Gorvinder Pannu, who brings to bear robust experience in recruitment, employment contracts, disciplinary matters, due diligence and litigation. Dover Corporation, Exterran and Schlumberger are all on the department’s books.

Bird & Bird

Bird & Bird leverages its signature sector strength to specialise in advising clients in the technology, media and telecoms sectors on employment law issues, including Ericsson. Counsel Saladin Aljurf and UAE managing partner Anders Nilsson are the key contacts.

DWF Middle East LLP

DWF Middle East LLP’s employment team has hit the ground running since its establishment in 2017 through the hire of group head Shiraz Sethi from Stephenson Harwood. The group, which handles an array of contentious and non-contentious DIFC and UAE law matters, recently advised Burgan Wealth on the removal of a senior executive officer.

Stephenson Harwood

Over the past year, Stephenson Harwood’s ‘increasingly prominent employment practice’ handled a broad range of matters, with strong showings in restrictive covenants, employment disputes and transactional matters. Kiersten Lucas’ team counts Tricon International and M&C Saatchi among its clients.

Watson Farley & Williams

On the non-contentious side, Watson Farley & Williams covers transactional support matters, restructurings and compliance issues. In a recent example, Suhail Mirza advised Fyffes on the secondment of a senior management team in the UAE. Litigator Charlotte Bijlani is recommended for employment disputes.