Federal Law no. 8 of 1980 “Labour Law” governs the provisions related to employment of nationals and expats in United Arab Emirates (UAE). All the privately held companies and employers are bound by the provisions of this law. State and publically held companies may also be subject to other laws as may be prescribed for them.
The government of UAE is committed to ensure that all the employees in UAE are given equitable rights and safe environment at work place and labour laws are continuously modified to achieve this objective. Education providers in UAE including Schools, Colleges and Universities are also subject to the provisions of labour law and laws issued by Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation of UAE and Ministry of Education (MoE) of UAE. This articles aims to highlight major provisions of these laws and their impact on the education institutions in the UAE.
Teachers in UAE
Whole of Middle East have acute shortage of teachers and retention of qualified academicians is probably the biggest challenge the education industry is facing today. MoE clearly identifies this concern and making efforts to attract and motivate talented teachers to be a part of UAE education industry. Sometimes, these provisions are in variance with the provisions of labour law and sometimes add the burden on employers. It provides for the room for confusion and ambiguities for hiring and retaining the right staff.
Employment contract issued by schools in UAE should be fixed term contracts by default. Some schools are required to issue standard employment contract as prescribed by MoE. It is important to note here that there are many provisions in it which may vary from the provisions of labour law which adds to the ambiguity about the employment contracts to be issued by educational institutions in UAE. It is advisable to play safe and draft contracts for employees within the boundaries of provision of labour law as well as regulations prescribed by MoE in consultation with a professional expert.
The Standard MoE contract provides from maximum probation Period of one month while labour law says that probation period of an employee can be extended for a maximum period of six months.
By laws issued by MoE provides that the working hours of teachers are limited to 18 hours per week which means 24 period per week if the duration of period is 45 minutes and 27 periods per week if the duration of period is 40 minutes. It will facilitate the teachers to undertake research and development activities. It is therefore important to design the contract carefully to have the rights of fruits of research done by them.
As per the labour law all the employees are entitled to a minimum 30 days of paid leaves annually and as per the bylaws issued by Ministry of Education teachers are entitled to 60 days paid summer leaves and two paid weeks after completion of six months of service at school. Given the room for confusion, the employer can use this additional leave period a way to limit his liability to pay in lieu of leave but act as a disincentive for teachers to leave before completion of their term.
Labour law do not provides for any notice period to be served but MoE Contract stipulates a notice period of two months. This notice period will facilitate employers to restrain teachers to leave the job in middle of a session.
If an employer terminate a fixed term contract before its expiry he will be liable to pay compensation equals to 3 months salary of employee or such higher compensation as may be provided by labour law. On the other hand, if an employee resigns before expiry of a fixed term contract labour law requires him to pay compensation equals to 1.5 months of his salary.
Other Miscellaneous Considerations
The employment contracts should be designed to protect the rights and interests of both the parties and therefore it should therefore restrict teachers and employees of schools from sharing confidential information and working outside of schools after completing their working hours.
In addition to that, the contract should provide adequate freedom to employees and students to design and structure teaching techniques and discuss topics and express opinions without outside interference.
Education industry all over the world has its own complexities in relation to labour laws and UAE is not an exception. Labour laws and MoE should strive for attracting the talent to serve UAE and also ensures to regulate the provisions related to employment laws to protect the interest of students as well as educational institutions in UAE. Teachers shape up the future of any nation therefore it is necessary to attract and retain talent and at the same time to motivate it for supporting continuously in shaping the future. Employment and labour laws should be developed to attain this objective effectively.
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