Whether your company is hiring its first employee or you already have a large team in place, the process is the same and is driven by local employment and immigration laws and regulations. The process set out below refers to some specific requirements of the UAE and its various free zones but is intended to give an indication of the formalities that are observed in this region.
To start the process of hiring someone, an employee needs an offer letter from your company. In the UAE, whether in a free zone or onshore, the signed offer letter is filed with the Ministry of Labour. The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (formerly the Ministry of Labour) or the relevant free zone authority, must then approve the employment of the employee and grant a work permit.
Visa, work permit, Emirates ID
Employers are responsible for obtaining, maintaining and paying for the employee’s UAE employment visa, work permit and Emirates ID. Employment visas are valid for three years. The visa application process varies (along with the costs) depending on whether, at the time of the application, an individual is outside the UAE, in the UAE on a visitor’s visa or if they have a cancelled employment visa from a previous employer.
Before the employee’s residence visa is issued, the employer must provide confirmation of health insurance coverage for the employee. An employer is liable for the costs of certain health care services provided to its employees if a valid health insurance policy is not in place (and the costs of health care services in the UAE may be greater than what you are used to in your home country).
Employers must use a standard form employment contract which is issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation or the relevant free zone authority. Employers typically supplement the standard form with their own, more comprehensive form of employment contract.
In some of the free zones in the UAE, the employment agreement must be in English and you must ensure that any employee who doesn’t have sufficient written English skills understands the terms of the employment agreement before they sign it.
What else do I need to know?
We’ll provide more detail in each of these areas soon but, for now, keep in mind the following:
• Employer responsibilities: As an employer, your company will be responsible for ensuring occupational health and safety measures are developed, maintained and complied with in its place of business. The environment you provide for your staff must meet certain physical (e.g. clean and well-lit) and other standards (e.g. free from harassment and risk to employees’ health).
• Policies: Policies allow you to outline what is acceptable in your company and, if implemented correctly, you can develop and change them to suit your growing business without having to get the agreement of each individual employee to those changes. Your policies can be tied to your employment agreement so a breach of a key policy requirement can lead to disciplinary action and/or termination of employment if it is sufficiently serious.
• Record keeping: Employment laws and regulations often require that your company maintains records of various details relating to each of your employees. Regardless of whether these requirements apply to your company, it is good practice to keep records of your employees’ contact details, salary and bonus payments, annual leave and sick leave taken and end-of-service gratuity or other severance payments made on termination of employment.
Protecting your confidential information: A key component of your company’s employment agreement will be putting confidentiality obligations on the employee. Protecting your confidential information can be further enhanced by the policies referred to above. You’ll want to prevent your employees from taking any confidential information they become aware of during their employment and exploiting it themselves or sharing it with others.
• Owning the output of the employee’s efforts: The intellectual property rights in the output of your employees’ efforts should be transferred to your company through its employment agreement (known as an “assignment” of intellectual property rights). The assignment of rights to your company is designed to ensure your company receives the maximum protection at law for any work product your employee produces during the course of their employment.
If you’d like to know more, please see PROTECT my business for information on confidentiality and intellectual property.
Want to know more?
Please also see STAFF my business for information on your team, including employees and consultants.