Picture for illustrative purposes only.


Rights of domestic workers in the UAE explained

A new UAE law for domestic workers will come into effect on December 15 to ensure that household workers get the fair treatment that they deserve.

The law covers housemaids, nannies, cooks, personal drivers and gardeners. spoke with Imran Khan, a legal consultant in the UAE, to explain the stipulations of the law, as well as the obligations and rights of both employers and workers. Here’s the Q&A:

Explain the mandatory domestic worker’s employment contract.

Employers are required to enter into an employment contract with domestic workers in accordance with the unified standard contract mandated by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, and a copy of the contract must be given to the worker.

The employment contract must clearly indicate the names, the date of the contract, date of joining, nature and place of work, duration of the contract, the total amount of remuneration, payment method, authorized leave, probation period, and rest periods etc. The duration of a limited employment contract is two years and may be renewed for a similar period.

What is the probation period for a domestic worker?

The probation period for a domestic worker will not be more than six months from the date of employment.

Are domestic workers entitled to a paid day off?

Yes. Domestic workers are entitled to a paid weekly rest day. If the domestic worker is required to work during his or her rest day, he or she shall be granted an alternate day off to rest or be compensated cash in lieu for the rest day.

Are domestic workers entitled to rest periods every day?

Yes. Domestic workers are entitled to a rest period of at least 12 hours per day, of which at least eight hours are uninterrupted.

What about salary payments for domestic workers?

Monthly salaries should not be delayed more than 10 days.

Are domestic workers entitled to annual leaves or holidays?

Yes. Domestic workers are entitled to an annual leave of not less than 30 days for each year of service which shall be paid in full before they go on their annual leave. Domestic workers who have served for more than six months but less than one year shall be entitled to two days of leave or holiday per month.

The employer may determine the date on which annual leaves are to start, and may choose to divide the leave into two parts if necessary.

Who will pay for the airfare of the domestic worker?

The employer will pay for the domestic workers’ return ticket once every two years.

Can domestic workers take a sick leave?

Yes. Domestic workers are entitled to sick leave of 30 days for each year of service

– The first fifteen days are paid in full.
– The next thirty days at half pay.

The employer must provide appropriate health insurance to the domestic worker. If the domestic worker’s behaviour contributed to the illness, no payment will be made during sick leave.

Can domestic workers leave their job? What about absconders?

A domestic worker may leave work in specified circumstances under the UAE law and in accordance with the decisions issued by the Ministry. Employers must notify the Ministry within five days if a domestic worker abandons work. A domestic worker must inform the Ministry within two days of leaving work without the employer’s knowledge.

Can a domestic worker end the employment contract?

A contract may be individually terminated by either the domestic worker or the employer if the other party fails to fulfil its obligations outlined in the law.

If the termination is by the employer without any valid reasons, the employer will be liable to pay the worker’s due compensation in addition to the expenses for repatriating the worker to her or his home country.

If the domestic worker chooses to terminate the employment contract after the probation period for reasons attributed to him or her, there will be specific obligations under the following circumstances:

– If a domestic worker is recruited by the individual sponsor then the worker will be liable to bear the costs of the ticket
– If a domestic worker is recruited through a recruitment agency then the recruitment agency will pay the cost of repatriating the domestic worker.

Can a domestic worker transfer to a new employer?

Domestic workers are permitted to transfer to new employers provided that all contractual requirements are met while observing the rights of the original employer and in accordance with the conditions and procedures prescribed by a Ministerial decision.

If the domestic worker joins another employer, the original employer will not be liable to pay the repatriation costs.

What about the end of service gratuity for domestic workers?

Not yet decided under this law. It will be decided on MOHRE’s recommendation.

ALSO READ: 8 things that could get you fined up to Dh10 million in UAE

ICA/Expat Media

Imran Khan is a UAE-based legal consultant. Contact him via

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