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Undoubtedly, the UAE stands as one of the most enticing job destinations in the Gulf. With a multitude of global investors foraying into the UAE job market, it is transforming into a global hub for economic developments.
Based on the recent ministerial decisions of promoting Emiratization, certain provisions prefer the UAE nationals for offering employment opportunities. This means that first the UAE nationals will be preferred followed by the nationals of other Arab countries, and at last, job seekers belonging to other nationalities. However, there still remains a whole lot of scope for expatriates looking for job opportunities in the UAE. With the World Expo 2020 to happen in the country, multiple career avenues are available. All that’s required is learning the right drill while switching employers in the UAE.
Laws for Changing Occupation in the UAE
The UAE’s Ministry of Labour has introduced several changes in the Labour Law in the beginning of the year 2016 with an intention of creating a mutually beneficial relationship, labour mobility and transparency between the employer and employee.
The three key highlights of the Labour Law:
1. Mandatory Employment Contract: Ministerial Decree (764) of 2015 states that a worker must be given an employment offer duly signed by both the parties. The mandatory employment offer letter will help expats hired by the companies in the UAE to have complete knowledge about what is being exactly offered by the employer. The offer letter must be in the native language of the recruit that should mention the detail of duties and rights of both the parties, i.e. the employee and the employer.
2. Terminating Work Contract: Historically, employees required a no-objection certificate (NOC) from their employer to leave their employment. When terminating unlimited or limited employment contracts, the new law explains why an NOC is no more a pre-requisite for switching jobs. There are several conditions when a contract can be terminated for non-term as well as term contracts. The law aims to make it quicker and easier for expat workers to switch jobs.
A fixed-term (limited) employment contract can be terminated:
As per the UAE Ministerial Decree (765) of 2015, employees who are employed on a limited (fixed term) employment contract, the termination is acceptable on the following condition:
a) A fixed term contract has expired and not renewed
b) If both the parties mutually agree to end the contract
c) Unilateral termination by any of the two parties in compliance with certain formalities such as notifying the other party with a maximum 3 month notice; and honoring the contractual obligations and indemnifying the other party with the agreed compensation between one and three months for early termination
d) If the worker commits violations that are prohibited under Article 120 of the Federal Labour Law
A non-term employment contract can be terminated:
a) If both parties consent to termination
b) One party gives notice of termination at least one month in advance and not exceeding three months
c) If one party unilaterally acts to terminate and bears consequences of early termination
d) If an employee violates labour law rules under Article 120
3. New Work Permit: Granting a work permit to a worker by a new employer should strictly meet the set of new rules. Ministerial Decree No (766) of 2015 on rules and conditions for granting a work permit clarifies the conditions an employee shall be granted a new work permit without incurring any labour bans:
– The term of the contract has expired for both term and non-term contracts.
– Both the parties mutually agree to terminate the contract provided the employee has completed at least six months of employment. However, the six month rule can be waived if the employee under both limited and unlimited contract has skill levels classified by the ministry as 1, 2, and 3, i.e., Level 1: University degree holders, Level 2: Diploma, and Level 3: High School.
– If it is determined by the employee that the employer has failed to meet contractual and legal obligations, such as when the employer fails to pay wages for more than 60 days to the worker.
– If the employer has not provided work to the worker due to the company being inactive for over two months and the worker reports to the labour ministry during the company shutdown.
How to Save Yourself from a Ban?
With the new labour laws encompassing the employee rights for professionals in various economic fields of the UAE, it seems quite convenient to switch jobs without putting your interests at stake or without a fear of getting into any legal issues. However, it is highly significant to keep your professional record clean and make the job switch happen in the most legal way possible.
Provided that your tenure is subject to provisions of the Federal Law No 8 of the UAE Labour law, it is completely valid and legal to start working with a new employer having completed the initial two years of service with the previous employer.
For any person facing a ban in the UAE, application for work permit will be automatically rejected. However, Ministerial Decree No. (766) of 2015 clarifies certain circumstances under which the ban can be lifted. If any of the criteria below are fully satisfied, an employee shall be granted a new work permit without incurring any labour bans.
For limited contracts, the following circumstances are exempted from labour ban:
– contract duration has expired and not renewed
– both parties mutually agree to terminate the contract before the duration is complete as long as the worker has completed at least six months of employment
– employee has served at least six months and is terminated without a cause
– contract is terminated after it has been renewed, provided that:
a) The terminating party has given notice
b) The terminating party meets the requirement of early termination compensation
For unlimited contracts, Under these circumstances, no ban can be applied:
– Both parties mutually terminate the contract. However, the employee should have served for not less than six months
– The employee has properly have been properly observed the notice provisions as per the contract and Labour Law
– The employee has worked for at least six months but has been terminated without any reason
Expats already working in the UAE can switch jobs by transferring their sponsorship from the current sponsor to a new sponsor. However, it should meet the sponsorship transfer requirements set by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization. The required documents include sponsorship transfer application stamped and duly signed by the authorized persons of the current as well as previous sponsorship. Moreover, the new sponsor will have to apply for a new residence visa for the employee.
Non-national labourers are also allowed to transfer their sponsorship if they belong to any of these job categories:
– Doctors, nurses, and pharmacists
– Accountants and account auditors
– Qualified administrative officials
– Agricultural guides
– Agricultural guides
– Technicians working on electronic equipment and laboratories
– Licensed drivers of heavy vehicles and buses
Smart Tips to Take Away
It might be a higher remuneration prospect, or the chance to work with an industry leader, reasons to make a job switch in the UAE can be plentiful. However, there always are smart tips that can help you go about the entire process hiccup-free.
– To explore lucrative career opportunities, consider the fact you are not looking a job-hopper. Do have a word with all those in your network who have undergone the phase.
– Have sufficient work experience on your plate to make a solid claim for your candidacy, be it any employer you apply for.
– There surely are a plethora of communities or groups pertaining to your country in the UAE. Be an active participant to get the right guidance about how to go ahead in your job search.
– Make all terms of previous employment clear to the new employer. Hiding any facts would eventually create pitfalls during the transition.
It’s just a matter of ensuring these basics and switching jobs in the UAE would never seem like a hassle. Without further wait, check these to keep all legal issues on the right track and have a blissful work life in the exotic Arab land.
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