What is the Federal Decree-Law No 33 of 2021?

the Federal Decree-Law No 33 of 2021 is the new decree-law issued by the UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to regulate labor relations in the private sector. The new law will repeal UAE Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 and will come into effect on February 2, 2022.


Major changes

Since the law’s establishment, this new decree is considered the most significant amendment, as it introduces major changes in the workplace and in the employer-employee relationship. These changes include:

New Work models

A key change is the introduction of new forms of work under the article (7), including part-time, temporary, and flexible work.

In part-time work, an employee is allowed to work for one or more employers for a specific number of working hours or days.

In temporary work, a worker is engaged only for a specific period of time, or is involved in a specific task that the work ends with its completion.

Flexible work involves changing working hours or working days, depending on the workload and the employer’s needs. This means that if an employee works 40 hours a week as per the contract, he/she can perform the 40 hours in three days.

This is in addition to any other models specified by the Executive Regulations of this Decree-Law, such as freelancing, condensed working weeks, shared job models, and self-employment, according to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization.


Fixed-term contract

Another key change is that the new law now defines only one type of employment contracts, namely limited or fixed-term. Article (8) states that employment contracts may not exceed three years and are renewable for a similar or lesser period upon the agreement of both parties.

However, any contracts that were concluded for indefinite term must be changed to renewable fixed-term contract.

Protection and support

The new law gives prominence to the wellbeing of employees in the workplace. Article (4) prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, nationality, social origin, or disability, emphasizing on the protection of workers against sexual harassment, bullying, or any verbal, physical or psychological violence by superiors or colleagues.

Moreover, the law underlines that all provisions regulating the employment of employees shall apply without discrimination to working women, stressing on granting women the same wages as men when performing the same task or other duties of equal value.



In addition to amendments to the maternity leave, the law, under article (32), introduces new paid leaves, such as mourning leave, paternity leave, and study leave.

Paid mourning leave is given to an employee who loses a family member one to death. The period of this leave ranges between three to five days, depending on the employee’s relation to the deceased.

When an employee has a new-born child, he is granted a paid parental leave for five working days, effective from the baby’s date of birth to six months.

Following two years of work with an employer, employees are entitled to a study leave for 10 working days per year in order to sit examinations, provided that they are enrolled in an accredited institution within the UAE.

As for the maternity leave, article (30) now allows it to extend to 60 days: 45 days with full wage, followed by 15 days on half wage. New mothers are eligible to receive additional 45 days without pay once they finish their initial maternity leave period in case of any post-partum complications or ailment in the new born. What is new, remarkably, is that new mothers of infants with special needs are entitled to a 30-day paid leave after the completion of their initial maternity leave period, renewable for another 30 days with no pay.


Other changes

Besides all what is mentioned above, the new law also introduces other changes that can be of interest to employees.

Probation Period

Article (90 states that, during the probation period – which should not be more than six months – a two-week notice must be given if an employee is terminated. Employees, on the other hand, must give a one month’s notice if they want to change jobs and a 14-day notice if they want to leave the country.

Judicial Fees Exemption

Under article (55), employees will no longer pay legal fees when filing labor cases against employers for compensation less than AED 100,000.


Non-Compete Clause

Under article (10), which states that employer is allowed to stop an employee from competing against them or to participate in a competing project in the same sector, the contract must under the new law specify a duration the clause is in effect, as it cannot last more than two years from when the employee stops working. It must also specify places and types of work that are not permitted within this time in order to protect business interests.


Questions ?

If you wish to discuss or have any questions, please contact Yasin Al Hamed Advocates and Legal Consultants: