It will hugely enhance the current labour market, say lawyers

A new system whereby Emiratis and expatriates can take up part-time employment has been hailed by lawyers in the UAE. They said it will provide 'certainty and fairness' to both the employee and the employer.

Launched by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, the new system means employees can now work in professions (in the first or second tier skill levels) with more than one employer after obtaining a permit from the ministry. They can do so without receiving prior consent from their first employer.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Sara Khoja of Clyde & Co international law firm said this is a welcome step forward and "one which will be of great interest to employers in the UAE".

"It will allow them to resource flexibly and plan for fluctuating labour needs. It will also, in practice, permit a sharing of resources across different entities."

The move to recognise and regulate part-time work, in particular the ability to pro rata entitlements according to what hours an employee works, will "provide certainty and fairness" to both parties, she said.

For Dubai-based lawyer Ashish Mehta, founder and managing partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates, the forward-thinking step by the ministry will come with many benefits.

"It will hugely enhance the current labour market and will allow workers the opportunity to legally take up part-time employment here.

"It is a great initiative, a welcome step, and it will keep the costs down in the current labour market," he said.

However, he added that we should "wait for the ministerial regulations" which will definitely provide on the clarity on the process going forward.

The system is slated to enhance and fortify the flexibility of the current local labour market. Benefits include reducing expatriate labour demands and operational costs for workers.

Contractual (reduced) ministerial fees ranging from D150 to Dh2,000 will be handled by the original employer, with the secondary employer(s) required to pay Dh100 in fees.

Speaking about the direct benefits for employees, Sarra AlSamarrai, associate at Fichte & Co, said this is certainly a welcome approach to labour in the UAE.

Employees are usually bound by strict terms and conditions under their employment contracts to solely work for their employer. Furthermore, there are penalties under the UAE labour laws if the employee is found to be working for an employer who is not the sponsor."

Additionally, she said a 'No Objection Certificate (NOC)' is usually required from the sponsor, should the employee wish to engage in any additional work. But this new system will eliminate that requirement.

"Being allowed to undertake part-time work, without the approval of the sponsor/first employer would allow the employee flexibility to earn an additional income, or simply to have a side business."

However, like Mehta, she said it is imperative we "evaluate the restrictions imposed by the Ministry first" and assess on a case-by-case basis whether an approval is required or not.

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