Navigating the intricacies of employment in the UAE’s dynamic free zones has been streamlined with digital solutions and regulatory insights. If you’re working within one of these specialised economic areas, understanding how to check your free zone labour contract is essential for maintaining your employment rights and clarity on your job terms. The UAE labour contract process differs from the mainland employment system, with each Free Zone Authority (FZA) managing contracts and disputes autonomously.
This introduction is your gateway to grasping the nuances of free zone employment agreements, the verification process, and the impending changes in 2024 that could reshape how you approach any arising employment disputes. Stay informed and equipped to handle your free zone employment concerns with confidence.
If you’re an employee in the UAE, getting to know the specifics of your employment contract has become a breeze thanks to digital advancements. The Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation (MOHRE) offers an online portal and a mobile app that lets you check labour contracts online and view your labour card or work permit easily.
To use this service through the MOHRE app, you’ll need to register first after you’ve got your confirmation via email or SMS and log in to your account. Head to your profile in the app and select the ‘view labour card’ option.
You’ll then be able to access your labour card details right from your mobile device.
Using the UAE Pass app, you can also get your labour card information through your mobile number. You’ll need to register first, and then you can quickly find your labour card number. Download the UAE Pass app and set up your account from your app store.
Once you’re all set, open the app and choose the ‘Add document’ category. Look for the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation section and tap on ‘Labour Card’. If you’ve already entered it, your Emirates ID number, which you’ll need to retrieve your labour card, will be filled in automatically.
After you agree to the document access request and confirm, you’ll get a notification in the ‘Documents’ section of the app when your labour card is ready. This digital version of your labour card is protected with blockchain technology, which confirms its authenticity and lets you share it digitally with government departments when needed.
When you want to check out your labour card details, it’s best to do it during off-peak hours to sidestep any delays from server overload. The process of checking your labour contract is simple, and you can do it whenever it suits you, thanks to the 24/7 availability of online services. Keep in mind, though, that this online check is only for those under the UAE Ministry of Labour.
Suppose you’re with a free zone company. In that case, you’ll have to ask your employer about your own labour contract online, as free zone authorities handle their employment contracts independently from MOHRE.
When you’re ready to request your contact details, ensure you’ve got all your info, like your Emirates ID, ready for a quick and easy process. Both the MOHRE app and the UAE Pass app are there to help you get your employment details efficiently, so make sure you use these tools to keep up-to-date with the terms of your employment in the UAE.
Free zones are areas within the UAE that grant businesses certain advantages, such as exemption from taxes and the ability to have full foreign ownership. These zones are governed by FZAs, which manage company operations within their domains.
Employment agreements within these zones differ from mainland ones, as they are not under the UAE Labour Law but under the rules of the FZA. These labour contracts online offer stability and assurance since the sponsorship comes from the FZA, securing your work permit and residency.
The zones cater to specific industries, fostering a hub of expertise and resources that are advantageous to both the workforce and employers.
Employment agreements in the mainland and free zones have notable differences. Mainland businesses must comply with the UAE Labour Law and obtain approvals from government bodies such as the Department of Economic Development.
Mainland entities have the liberty to operate anywhere in the UAE, unlike free zone businesses that are confined to their zones and often need local distributors for trading outside their zones.
Visa regulations for mainland companies are more stringent. At the same time, free zone entities follow the visa policies set by their respective FZA. Mainland businesses are also required to have a physical office of a certain minimum size. This requirement varies for free zone businesses based on their FZA’s rules.
Free zone employment agreements include essential elements to check labour contracts that comply with the employment laws of the specific FZA. These contracts ensure the fundamental rights and responsibilities of both parties are well-established.
The contract will outline the nature of employment, which can be for a fixed term or indefinite. Fixed-term contracts are typically for a set period or project, at most two years. Indefinite contracts do not have a fixed end date. They can be concluded with mutual agreement or by observing a notice period, generally one to three months.
The UAE has also introduced a system for part-time employment, enabling professionals to work multiple part-time jobs with a permit from MOHRE, following the same regulations as full-time contracts.
Entities in zones such as Jafza offer support for employment-related issues through account managers or customer service desks, assisting businesses in adhering to the specific employment laws of the zone.
To verify a labour contract in a free zone, it’s necessary to identify the appropriate authority overseeing the employment zone. Once determined, a visit to their office is required, as these authorities operate autonomously from MOHRE.
Upon visiting the authority, you should bring your original labour contract, a valid ID such as a passport or Emirates ID, and any additional documents requested by the authority. This enables the authority to cross-reference your check labour contract with their records. Although the free zone authorities are the first point of contact for employment disputes, there are instances when MOHRE intervenes, particularly when legal action is necessitated.
With the impending regulatory changes effective January 1, 2024, MOHRE will have the jurisdiction to resolve disputes for claims below AED 50,000 or where settlement decisions are ignored. The enforcement of these decisions will be in accordance with the UAE Civil Procedure Law. Dissatisfied parties can appeal to the Court of Appeal within 15 workdays, and the hearing will be expedited, with a final decision issued within 15 workdays from the commencement of proceedings. These modifications aim to streamline the dispute resolution process, particularly for smaller claims, and reduce the burden on the UAE Court of First Instance.
Understanding these upcoming changes is crucial for employees and employers in the free zones, as they will influence future approaches to contract disputes. The exact impact of these new provisions on disputes within the free zones remains to be seen. Still, the objective is to expedite and simplify the resolution process.
A free zone Labour Card is an identification document for individuals employed within a UAE free zone. It is distinct from the labour card issued by MOHRE for mainland employment. The card, which includes your photo, details of your date of birth and your employer, is processed by the respective FZA.
After signing an employment agreement, you receive this card, which is typically valid for one to three years, depending on the FZA’s regulations. Currently, free zone employees are required to have a free Labour Card. Still, there are plans to phase them out in favour of Resident IDs and electronic work permits.
The UAE Labour Law is not directly applicable to those employed within a free zone. Instead, each free zone is governed by its own set of employment regulations, and your contract must adhere to these. Although your technical sponsor is the FZA, you retain the right to pursue legal action against your employer if necessary.
You must request a salary certificate from your employer to obtain it in a free zone. This document confirms your employment details and compensation and is necessary for various administrative procedures. The employer will procure the certificate from the FZA where the company is registered, and it is typically issued within three business days.
A Labour card is distinct from an Emirates ID. The former is specific to your professional engagement, containing details pertinent to your employment and is used primarily for occupational purposes.
Conversely, an Emirates ID is a comprehensive identification card for all UAE residents, encompassing personal and biometric information. It serves as a universal ID for a wide range of services beyond the scope of employment.
Leveraging the digital tools at your disposal, understanding the nuances of free zone contracts, and knowing the correct authorities to contact for in-person verification allow you to navigate your employment in the UAE with greater assurance. Ensure all your documentation is updated and easily accessible to facilitate smooth inquiries whenever necessary.
Remember to stay informed about the evolving regulations and utilise the specialised channels established within your free zone authority for any contractual queries or concerns. Whether you’re verifying your labour contract details or resolving disputes, the mechanisms in place are designed to support and protect your working rights in the UAE’s dynamic economic landscape. Stay proactive, remain informed, and harness these resources to understand your employment terms in this thriving marketplace clearly.