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Labor Law in the UAE and the United States


Labor law deals with the (legal) rights and obligations of workers and their employers. They provide a common basis in which the employer is able to form a lasting relationship with his employees. If an employee feels that he is being denied his rights or that the employer is not meeting his obligation, he can file a complaint with the necessary authorities. On the other hand, employers can sue employees who fail to comply with the rules and regulations set for them. The employer has a right to terminate the employment if the employee is not meeting the standards but such termination has to be in compliance with the labor laws.

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Minimum wages are the least amount of remuneration that an employee expects to receive from his employer. It is a criminal offense to pay an employee a wage that is below the minimum wage rate. However, some countries have not set a minimum wage but have a way of determining the amount of wage an individual should be given. Last but definitely not least, employment discrimination can be defined as favors in the workplace. Some employers have a tendency of favoring some employees at the expense of others. Employees are denied equal employment opportunities on the basis of race, nationality, sex, ethnicity, or language.

Some countries, for instance, the United States have specific laws regarding discrimination. These laws give every employee an equal chance of securing employment regardless of his sex, race, ethnic group, or nationality. However, there are some countries (for instance the UAE) that do not have specific provisions on discrimination, and employees are left at the mercy of their employers although the labor law may intervene in extreme cases. This paper compares and contrasts the labor law, minimum wage, and employment discrimination in the UAE, DIFC, and the United States.

Labor laws

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), all businesses apply UAE Law No. 8 in all their employment matters. This law was amended in 1980 and it is now referred to as the labor Law. It applies to all Emirates working within UAE and in some, cases it encompasses the private sector. Every employee and employer within UEA has to apply the labor law because it is mandatory and has to be observed by everyone.

There are some zones within UAE that are free trade areas that follow their own employment regulation but, in most cases, except for DIFC, all employees working in UAE whether in the free zone or not are supposed to follow the labor law. DIFC Law No. 4 which was amended in 2005 governs all the employment matters within DIFC. The requirement of the labor law and the DIFC labor law is static and there is no provision to waive any of the requirements unless the labor law or the DIFC labor law considers such as a provision as being applicable.

These requirements are considered to be the minimum requirements in any kind of employment and if there are terms and conditions of employment that are considered more favorable than the minimum requirements, then such terms are considered to be valid (Anon. ”United Arab Emirates Labor and Employment Law” 2010).

DIFC Labor law contains 84 Articles that are compressed into 14 parts catering for all the issues related to employment. Issues covered in these articles include but notare limited to working hours, minimum wages, leaves, and termination of employment. All employees working in DIFC are covered by the labor law. Just like other labor laws, DIFC labor law does not provide provisions for waiving any requirement stipulated in the law unless such a provision is specifically acceptable under the law (Abdelhadi, 2007). Just like the UAE labor law, the requirement of the DIFC labor law is considered to be minimum requirements, and any terms and conditions of employment that seem to be more favorable than the labor law are considered to be valid.

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In DIFC, there are different employment laws for the public and private sectors. The public sector is governed by a set of employment laws that defines the grades, remuneration package, promotion, and other benefits. These laws do not govern the private employees even when they have been appointed to work for the public authorities. In UEA, the labor law is enforced by the labor department which has the power to issue regular decisions and administrative circulars as it deems necessary.

On the other hand, the FDIC labor law is enforced through the DIFC authority specified by the director of employment standards. The director has the authority of issuing employment regulations that may supplement the labor law (Anon” United Arab Emirates Labor and Employment Law” 2010). He has the authority to resolve disputes among employees and if he is not able to resolve the dispute, he can seek the help of the labor court.

For a long time, the employment law in the United States has been governed by the rule of “at-will employment”. This means that employment could be terminated if either the employer or the employee wished to terminate even without a valid reason. However, this rule was found to have so many shortcomings because many employers could appoint and terminate employees as they wished and there was along of discrimination. Starting in 1941, new labor laws were set that were more refined than the former rule. The first law to prohibit discrimination was the fair employment Act set in 1941 (Department of labor and workforce development 2010).

Unlike UAE and DIFC, U.S. labor law has provisions for workers’ compensation. All employees injured in the course of performing their duties are entitled to full medical care for the injury plus other monetary benefits to compensate them for any permanent disabilities they might incur. On the other hand, employers are mandated to subscribe to insurance companies for workers’ compensation and failure to comply attracts some serious financial penalties. Employers who are deemed to be subjected to high risks are waved from the current market rates and their insurance cover is determined at a certain rate (US Department of Labor 2010).

Employment discrimination

UAE has no specific law that addresses the issue of discrimination and there are no specific groups of people that are protected against discrimination while working for the UAE. However, there is an article in the labor law (Article 32) that protects women against discrimination in terms of wages. This article provides that, all employees (both male and female) are entitled to receive equal remuneration in terms of wages. All employees are considered to be equal and there is no one who is superior to the others. The labor law does not specifically protect disabled employees from being denied equal opportunities as the likeness given to the able-bodied.

However, Article 114 provides that, if an employee becomes disabled in the course of his employment, the employer should assign him an alternative role although the article does not provide for the adjustment of roles that will accommodate the disabled employee. The labor law protects women from being obstructed in their work by criminalizing such an offense. Sexual harassment is also prohibited and the offending needs to file a complaint to the police in such cases.

The police are required to carry out further investigations in such cases to ascertain the ground of the case. The UAE labor laws do not provide any specific provisions that prohibit recruitment agents against discrimination in terms of employment, training, or promotion of employees. At this point, it is worth noting that UAE is one of the liberal countries however, it is an Islamic country and any anti-Islamic act can result in criminal prosecution.

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As we all know, it is an offense to fail to honor Islam for instance eating in the public during the holy month of Ramadan is considered a criminal offense. The labor law protects employees against any charges that may be imposed by the recruiting agency; no employee is supposed to pay any charges whatsoever in order to obtain an employment opportunity in the UAE because all the employment charges are met by the sponsorship program. After an employee has been accepted in the UAE he has the right to choose the employer whom he desires to work with, for instance, many employees prefer to work only for their sponsors other than a third party.

Unlike the UAE labor laws, DIFC Labor laws provide specific provisions that prohibit employment discrimination based on sex, race, ethnicity, marital status, and physical disability. Everyone has a right to work in DIFC regardless of his nationality, race or physical ability, or disability for that matter. According to the DIFC labor law, no employer is under any circumstance required to refuse to offer an employment opportunity to suitable candidates under any of the bases mentioned above.

Employees are free to work anywhere as long as they meet the requirements of that particular job. All employees (male and female) are entitled to receive the same amount of wages under the DICF labor laws (Mulla, 2009). In addition to that, employers are required to provide sensible accommodation facilities and avoid unwarranted adversity on the disabled employees. Sensible accommodation refers to safe access to workplace, provision of training materials, devices, examination, and interpreters if need be.

The first law to prohibit racial discrimination in the United States was the Fair Employment Act set in 1941. Before then, employees in the United States used to be discriminated against employment employees races. The commonly discriminated employees are the Africans who are perceived to be inferior to the whites. Other laws that prohibit discrimination have been set. It is only the employee who has the right to remove a discrimination case once it has been reported to the equal employment opportunity commission but can only do so under the permission of the agency or wait for the expiry of the time that had been set.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Affirmative Action policies have a similar theme in fighting against discrimination, civil rights, and the provision of equal opportunities for individuals through federal authorizations. Both are legal doctrines that seek equitable measures in providing a standard on which discrimination is made illegal and any violators should face consequences.

ADA policies add addresses related to discrimination against disabled individuals while Affirmative Action addresses discrimination based on race, gender, national origin or sex. Both legal doctrines have different governing principles with disparities in their certainty and execution. Before Affirmative Action was recognized as law, women and other minority groups were discriminated against and would be denied opportunities that were given to men and other superior groups. This policy assisted such people in accessing education and employment and made them feel valued as members of the society (Dale, 2005).

Elimination of discrimination has been a legal challenge which has proved to be difficult to achieve. To make it worse, ADA policies conflicts with regulations from Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ARISA), and workers compensation law. As at 2008, the ADA law had not been effective in eliminating discrimination. Statistics which were taken in 2008 Fiscal Year shows that 19, 453 charges of discrimination on the disabled individuals were received by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Minimum wage

The labor law in UAE and the DIFC labor law do not provide provisions for minimum wage. Remuneration is divided into two categories; basic salary and allowances. These two categories are based on a ratio of 6:4 and the common type of allowances include transport and accommodation, school fees for children, and club membership. Remuneration is further categorized into either accompanied or unaccompanied. This means that an employee wage is determined on whether the employee will be accompanied by a partner and/or children or will not. It is assumed that an employee who is accompanied by a spouse or children may not be able to live and provide for the dependants in UAE if his basic salary is less than AED 6, 000.

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According to the labor law, all employees appointed on a yearly or monthly basis should receive their remuneration every month. Other employees, for instance casual employees, should receive their payment after every two weeks. Article 55 further states that all remuneration payments should be made on a working day in form of the national currency. If an employee has any complaints regarding the remuneration for instance, if he is not paid the full amount, he can forward such complaints to the Labor Department.

In the United States there is a minimum wage rate that has been set by the labor department. Employees who have been working in the United States as since 24th July 2009 are entitled to receive a minimum wage of $7.25 for every hour worked as set by the (federal) government. The minimum wage set in July 2009 was an increase from the former wage rate and it was a requirement of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. According to statistics taken in late 2009, about 980, 000 workers were found to be earning the minimum wage set by the Federal government while more than 2.6 million workers earned less than the minimum wage (US Department of Labor, 2010).


Abdelhadi, N. (2007). UAE labor law and DIFC employment law a comparison. Web.

Anon. (2010). United Arab Emirates Labor and Employment Law. Web.

Dale, C.V. (2005). Federal affirmative action law: A brief history. Web.

Department of labor and workforce development (2010). Rates and statistics, Workers’ compensation benefit rates. Web.

Mulla, H. A. (2009). Litigating in the DIFC: some initial guidance for the unaware. Web.

US Department of Labor (2010). Employee Rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act” – Wage and Hour Division. Web.

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