HR Consultancy Services in the UAE

IRIS HR Consulting has experience in helping businesses grow in the United Arab Emirates. Without expert guidance, it can otherwise be risky and costly to leave local laws and legislation open to interpretation. For a scalable, compliant operation, IRIS can manage your HR in the UAE to help your business hire, recruit, and pay staff overseas in new, unfamiliar countries. As a popular destination for businesses, IRIS can navigate local barriers – from culture to compliance – to arrive at a rewarding opportunity for your business to thrive in this exciting marketplace.

Expand your business to the UAE with IRIS HR Consultants.

HR in the UAE

Global Expansion in UAE

Many businesses eagerly observe the United Arab Emirates as an opportunity for favourable expansion. Not only does it have a healthy and diversified economy – banking, manufacturing, real estate, and more – but also the UAE has a strong, liberal trade connection with the Gulf. The UAE has proven a conducive magnet for trade and capital flows alike, which is more generously enabled through its lack of restrictions and its safe and secure business environment.

With a large (and growing) number of expatriates making up of 80% of its workforce, the talent force is a diversified and valuable tool for the UAE’s promising marketplace, which is known for its innovative and progressive industries. It’s attraction to the mobile global marketplace for talent is well-established in its high quality of life and strong business infrastructure. Along with a favourable relationship with taxation, the UAE’s economy has in recent years, been accelerated by its talent, industrial progressiveness and geographic location.

A Gateway to the Gulf

Located favourably in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, it’s strategic location is interconnected with key territories, including the Strait of Hormuz, which is a transit point for oil. Other neighbouring regions include Qatar, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. The major trade from the region includes crude oil, natural gas and dates.

The Gulf region has a tightly coordinated, and realised, potential for its economic and political influence. This coordination goes under many names, but there is a generally understood strong influence on trade and unity under mutual goals of ensuring sustained economic growth through exports.

Not only do other Middle Eastern territories gain favour by its unique trading alliances, but the UAE shares a special relationship with the rapidly growing markets of India. Its historic and friendly ties with both established markets, and emergent ones, positions the country attractively on the world stage.

Establishing your Business in the UAE

Embarking on a global expansion is a strategic move to gain extra value from exciting foreign markets, which are constantly evolving and full of opportunity. But the international stage isn’t always easy to navigate.

Before establishing your operation in this promising market, you must ensure compliance with employment law. That means overcoming certain barriers like language, where documents are in Arabic. Fortunately, experts like IRIS are multilingual and specialists at delivering businesses to new and foreign markets.

Employment Laws in the UAE

When first expanding your business into the UAE, navigating local laws, legislation and rules of employment is no mean feat, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the country’s driving policies like its stance on taxation. Throughout the Middle East and Asia, these laws are almost never universal. Rather, employment is dynamic and reflects the country’s social, economic and cultural opportunities.

Did you know?

The UAE is comprised of 7 Emirates and most US tech firms focus hotly on the regions of Abu Dhabi or Dubai.

HR in the United Arab Emirates

Hiring & Recruitment in the UAE

When getting your first hire overseas, you will need to negotiate terms of employment. But that requires local knowledge, strict compliance, and an understanding of what to include in an offer.

For private companies, for example, employment relations are strictly driven under Federal Law no. 8 of 1980, otherwise (and commonly) known as Labour Law. This law applies to all employment agreements within the United Arab Emirates, including nationals or expats.

Work Visas in UAE

Known as a ‘pink visa’, work entry visas are required in the UAE. The responsibility for obtaining a work permit falls on the employer, who must seek out approval through the Ministry of Labour (MOL). A formal contract must be submitted to the MOL at this stage.

Once approved, an employee will have two months to enter the UAE to work and live. After receiving a pink visa, the employee must seek a formal work permit and residence permit within 60 days.

Employment Rights & Contracts in the UAE

In all scenarios of employment, work internal to the UAE’s seven Emirates must honour the local labour Laws. For employment requiring visa sponsorship, a written contract will be required for any future applications (typically in Arabic and English).

An offer letter should state salary expectations and any compensation.

A full written contract, however, will capture more detail:

  • Name(s)
  • Date of Employment
  • Any Benefits and Compensation
  • Benefits
  • Termination requirements

What are the Working Hours in the UAE? 

Under Article 65 (of the Labour Laws), the normal working week in the private sector is identified as 8 hours per day, or 48 hours weekly. After special approval from the MoHRE (Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation), daily working hours can rise to nine.

Overtime in the UAE

Defined locally as anything beyond the typical working hours of a job (as outlined by the UAE Labour Laws), overtime will entitle employees to their normal remuneration with an extra 25%. That number doubles to 50% at hours between 9PM and 4AM. 

The standard working week is Sunday through Thursday (leaving Friday and Saturday as the definable ‘weekend’).

Public Holidays in the UAE

In the UAE, employees will get full pay for holiday for the following:

  • Hijri New Year
  • Gregorian New Year
  • Isra and Miaraj (Accession day)
  • Prophet Mohammad’s Birthday and National Day
  • 2 days for Eid Al-Fitr
  • 3 days for Arafa Day and Eid Al Adha.

Vacation or Annual Leave

Whilst vacation is something calculated against length of service, the normal allowance is set at thirty days annual leave or holiday.

Sick Leave in the UAE

Upon successful completion of the probationary period, employees are entitled to the following sick leave

  • Full pay for the first 15 calendar days
  • Half pay for the following 30 calendar days
  • Unpaid leave for the remaining 45 calendar days

Paternity Leave in the UAE

There are no statutory provisions for Paternity Leave in the UAE; any provisions given are entirely discretional by the employer.

Maternity Leave in the UAE

Pregnant employees who have completed a full years’ service, are entitled to 45 days leave with full pay. Employees with with than one years’ full service, are entitled to half pay for the 45 day duration.

Employees are also entitled to a further 100 days’ leave for pregnancy or childbirth related illnesses; such leave is unpaid.

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End of Service

HR in the UAE requires compliance not only during an employee’s service, but also at the end of it. End of service might include severance, termination, redundancy, and leaving packages. Or, for globally mobile companies with teams in foreign markets, this could be repatriation services for those returning from an assignment overseas.

For these more complicated matters, you will need expert HR guidance to navigate Labor Laws and remain compliant.

HR in the UAE

Termination in the UAE

Termination of employment is governed by the type of employment contract in place. Where no defined contractual end date is stipulated, notice periods must be observed – the minimum is 30 days, with a maximum duration of 3 months by mutual agreement.

End of Service Gratuity

In line with UAE labour laws, an employee is entitled to an “End of Service Gratuity”. This payment is dependant upon the mode of termination, the length of service by the employee and the type of employment contract s/he is engaged under. Taking these variations into account, an employer can expect to pay no more than 2 years’ salary to an employee as a gratuity payment.

Social Security

The UAE provides a comprehensive system of benefits to local employees, funded through contributions from both the employee and employer. Such benefits include:

  • Retirement
  • Disability & Survivor’s Benefit
  • Sickness
  • Healthcare
  • Accident Insurance

As non-contributors to the social security system, expat employees are not entitled to receive the above benefits.

Workers Compensation

Labour Law in UAE requires all employers to compensate their employees in the case of an injury or death due to work related causes. In some Emirates it is mandatory for employers to hold insurance to cover this risk, whereas in others it is not. Nevertheless, it is customary for an employer to secure a private insurance against such a risk.

Supplemental Benefits

Health Insurance Benefits

In certain Emirates, it is the employer’s obligation to provide access to private healthcare insurance to local hires; this is typically supplemented with registration extended to immediate family members at the same level.

Where expats are hired, it is a mandatory requirement for the employer to provide health insurance for both employee and their family members.

Occupational Pension

There is currently no requirement for an employer to provide a vehicle for retirement savings, for either local or expat employees. The “End of Service Gratuity” was deemed compensatory for this in some way, but was never intended as a replacement. Consequently, this area remains a ‘work-in-progress’ and particularly for expat hires, requires specialist consideration for home country retirement.


Supplemental benefits for expats focus entirely on additional allowances, on the basis that the assignments are temporary. Such allowances would typically include, but not necessarily limited to housing, schooling, air travel to home country, retirement, meals.

Death & Disability Insurance

Although the employer’s obligation is to provide compensation for death or injury in respect of work-related incidents, it is customary to extend support beyond this in the form of insurance-related benefits. For expats, such provision would typically match that of home country benefits where possible.

Pilgrimage Leave

As a one-time benefit, employees can choose to take a 30-day unpaid leave for reasons of a pilgrimage during the active run of their employment.

Why Partner With IRIS?

When entering new, exciting countries around Asia, like the United Arab Emirates, you will need an employment specialist to navigate the parts of local laws that are mandatory and those that are not. Delivering a compliant solution, IRIS can help your business arrive into new marketplaces whilst protecting your workforce – our partners can discover power and protection through us.

Overseas expansions can seem risky to those who dare it alone. Understanding the complexity of a fully compliant solution, IRIS can help businesses reach Asia and the Gulf, especially when they build bridges in the UAE.

Our cost-effective, knowledgeable approach to HR in the UAE makes us an ideal partner to commence your overseas plans.