Latest updates

Private companies can grant work permits to men sponsored by their families
Pinsent Masons
  • Immigration
  • United Arab Emirates
  • 04 October 2019

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation recently announced that private companies in the United Arab Emirates may now employ men who have been sponsored by their families on a dependant visa. The ministry has already begun issuing two-year work permits to eligible men sponsored by their families according to the announcement. Until now, only women sponsored by their families were entitled to work. Men were entitled to a work permit only if covered by their employer's visa allocation.

New DIFC Employment Law – everything you need to know
Pinsent Masons
  • Employment & Benefits
  • United Arab Emirates
  • 17 July 2019

The new Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Employment Law has now been published and will come into force on 28 August 2019. This article discusses what this means for employers in the DIFC and the impact of the key changes being introduced. DIFC employers should familiarise themselves with the new law and ensure that their employment contracts, policies and business practices are in line with the new regime.

Redundancy and restructuring overview
Pinsent Masons
  • Employment & Benefits
  • United Arab Emirates
  • 08 May 2019

Redundancy is a sensitive and challenging topic in any jurisdiction. For companies operating in the United Arab Emirates, the issue is particularly complex as the UAE Labour Law does not set out any express statutory definition of 'redundancy' or 'redundancy procedure'. A company which fails to engage in a reasonable process or retain sufficient evidence to support a dismissal will always face an element of risk.

Labour law modernisation efforts continue
Pinsent Masons
  • Employment & Benefits
  • United Arab Emirates
  • 20 March 2019

After a busy 12 months for the development of labour laws in the United Arab Emirates, the authorities look set to continue to focus on modernisation efforts in 2019. The reforms focus on, among other things, employment law, gender equality and multiculturalism, with the authorities announcing 2019 as the 'Year of Tolerance'.

Labour Law – recap of 2018 and look ahead at 'Year of Tolerance'
Pinsent Masons
  • Employment & Benefits
  • United Arab Emirates
  • 20 February 2019

The UAE authorities have been focusing on the development and modernisation of the employment law landscape over the past 12 months and look set to continue to do so in 2019. Of particular note is that 2019 has been declared the 'Year of Tolerance', with a particular focus on establishing the United Arab Emirates as a global reference point for a tolerant culture. Further, the authorities are expected to continue to consult on legislation to support women in the workplace in the short to medium term.

Abu Dhabi launches fast-track labour disputes court
Pinsent Masons
  • Employment & Benefits
  • United Arab Emirates
  • 06 February 2019

In collaboration with the courts, the Abu Dhabi Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation recently launched a summary court to complement the One Day Labour Court. The new court is designed to speed up the process of litigating labour-related matters, including issues relating to the return of a passport or an emirates ID card, health insurance, accommodation and the cancellation of work visas. However, this fast-track system is designed to consider straightforward disputes only.

VAT and employee benefits
Pinsent Masons
  • Employment & Benefits
  • United Arab Emirates
  • 30 January 2019

Non-cash employee benefits can create a value added tax (VAT) headache for businesses. Even fully taxable businesses in the United Arab Emirates may find that VAT recovery is blocked for certain activities. Further, even if input VAT is recoverable on the cost of the benefit, providing it to employees may trigger an obligation to account for VAT on the deemed supply of the benefit to the employee. For many benefits, the VAT treatment will vary depending on the circumstances.

DIFC authority proposes sweeping changes to Employment Law
Pinsent Masons
  • Employment & Benefits
  • United Arab Emirates
  • 21 November 2018

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has been reviewing and undertaking consultation on an entirely new Employment Law throughout most of 2018. The proposed amendments are likely to have a significant impact on key elements of the existing Employment Law and on employment relationships within the DIFC in general.

Rise of the gig economy
Pinsent Masons
  • Employment & Benefits
  • United Arab Emirates
  • 08 August 2018

The gig economy is developing and expanding worldwide and has already had an impact on the UAE regulatory framework. Moreover, it is likely to become more central to the landscape of employee and workforce relationships within the next five to 10 years. It is certainly an area that in-house legal teams, HR professionals and senior managers should pay close attention to in the short to medium term.

Part-time working introduced – more than just a nice idea
Pinsent Masons
  • Employment & Benefits
  • United Arab Emirates
  • 09 May 2018

Part-time and flexible working arrangements are a fundamental part of workforces in western jurisdictions and serve as a significant incentive that employers can use to recruit and retain their talented employees. While these arrangements are not currently offered by many employers in the United Arab Emirates, this may be about to change in light of a significant statutory development. This development is a win-win for all parties, and businesses should consider creating roles for part-time employees.

Redundancies and restructures: what employers need to know
Pinsent Masons
  • Employment & Benefits
  • United Arab Emirates
  • 04 April 2018

There is a huge amount of uncertainty and misunderstanding surrounding the legal approach to redundancies and restructures in the United Arab Emirates. Redundancies were particularly prevalent during the 2008-2009 crash and the more recent oil price slump in 2015-2016. During those periods, many UAE employers received judgments against their businesses after they failed to understand or comply with the legal position and expectations of the local courts when undertaking internal processes.

ADGM Arbitration Centre and ICC MENA representative office established
  • Arbitration & ADR
  • United Arab Emirates
  • 28 September 2017

The Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) has announced the establishment of the ADGM Arbitration Centre, which will include the Middle East and North Africa representative office of the International Chamber of Commerce International Court of Arbitration. The centre is forecast to be fully operational by January 2018. This marks an important development for arbitration in the region and provides users of arbitration in the Middle East with greater choice.

M&A transactions in the United Arab Emirates: an overview
  • Corporate Finance/M&A
  • United Arab Emirates
  • 23 August 2017

As a result of the economy experiencing an upswing over the past year, there was an increase in transactions and deal values in the first half of 2017. Further, because the United Arab Emirates put its plans to diversify its economy away from a dependency on oil into action, M&A activity outside the oil sector has been bolstered. In particular, there has been growth in the healthcare, education and retail sectors.

Judicial Committee renders first decisions under Decree 19
  • Arbitration & ADR
  • United Arab Emirates
  • 18 May 2017

Decree 19/2016 established a judicial committee tasked with resolving conflicts of jurisdiction between the Dubai courts and the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) courts. Just over six months after the issuance of Decree 19/2016, the committee rendered its first decisions, which have made it clear that an arbitral award rendered onshore in Dubai cannot be enforced in the DIFC courts where proceedings in respect of the same award have been commenced before the Dubai courts.

Ministry of Economy issues waiver for amendments to LLCs' memoranda of association
  • Company & Commercial
  • United Arab Emirates
  • 01 May 2017

The Ministry of Economy recently issued Ministerial Resolution 694/2016, which waives the requirement for limited liability companies, joint liability companies and limited partnerships to amend their memoranda of association, as per the new Companies Law. That said, it is advisable for exempt companies to amend their memoranda of association in due course for ease of reference.

Deciphering due diligence
  • Company & Commercial
  • United Arab Emirates
  • 17 April 2017

Clients often ask how to conduct legal due diligence or background checks on another party in the United Arab Emirates. Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer. With no centralised company register, and over 40 different free zones, obtaining basic information about UAE free zone companies may pose a daunting challenge. Even so, there are still effective tools available to uncover the necessary information.

Merger control in United Arab Emirates
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • United Arab Emirates
  • 13 April 2017

The competition law regime established by Federal Law 4/2012 and Resolution 37/2014 has been criticised – in particular, for being ambiguous in relation to merger control, making the law unenforceable in practice. Most notably, the regime lacked defined thresholds for the application of merger control provisions. These issues were recently addressed through two cabinet resolutions. However, considerable ambiguity remains in the interpretation and application of the UAE competition law regime.

Rescue and revive: new UAE bankruptcy law
  • Insolvency & Restructuring
  • United Arab Emirates
  • 10 March 2017

​The much-awaited new bankruptcy law in the United Arab Emirates is a complete legal framework designed to help financially troubled companies to avoid collapse. The new law recently took effect after being decreed by President Sheikh Khalifa. It is part of the global wave of insolvency reform referred to as the 'rescue culture' and has been warmly received by local and international stakeholders.

Amendments to Penal Code may affect arbitration
  • Arbitration & ADR
  • United Arab Emirates
  • 09 February 2017

A recent unexpected change to the Penal Code which criminalises arbitrators' and experts' violations of their duties of integrity and impartiality has stunned the arbitration community. While steps are underway to lobby the UAE government to repeal or amend the new Article 257, it has cast a shadow over the significant efforts in recent years to promote the United Arab Emirates as a regional hub for resolving disputes.

New amendments to UAE labour law regime to be considered in M&A transactions
  • Corporate Finance/M&A
  • United Arab Emirates
  • 21 December 2016

Investors seeking to acquire an enterprise must consider the liability arising from a multitude of legal engagements. While the nature and complexity of existing contracts that should be reviewed in legal due diligence may differ considerably depending on the area of business in which the target is engaged, employment relationships will be a significant factor in most corporate transactions. As such, recent amendments to the employment regime are highly relevant to M&A transactions.