UAE: Labor Ministry Requires Contract Translations, Better Housing for Foreign Workers

This complete global solution for HR professionals combines custom research, strategic white papers, country primers, webinars, and the expert guidance you’ve come to expect from...

By Jenny David

Jan. 28— The United Arab Emirates will now require employers to provide job offers and labor contracts to foreign workers not only in English and Arabic, but also in whichever of nine other approved languages the workers speak.

The newly approved languages—Bengali, Chinese, Dari, Hindi, Malayalam, Nepalese, Sri Lankan, Tamil and Urdu—were selected according to Labor Ministry statistics on the origin of most foreign workers residing in the UAE.

The ruling “applies to workers coming from outside and those residing here who seek a new job or must move from one company to another,” Humaid bin Deemas, assistant undersecretary for labor affairs, said in a Jan. 17 statement.

Promoting Transparency

“Adding these new languages confirms the ministry's desire to promote transparency between both parties on terms and conditions of employment and their rights and obligations, before coming to the country to attend to their duties,” bin Deemas said.

The new initiative follows the Jan. 1 implementation of three ministerial decrees intended to promote labor mobility and ensure that employers cannot unilaterally change the employment conditions of foreign workers.

“Workers must review job offers and annexes in their preferred languages before signing the contracts, in order to reach a healthy work relationship between both sides,” bin Deemas said, adding that the annexes must be reviewed “since they contain a number of labor laws and amendments.”

The process will help reduce labor disputes, bin Deemas continued, “especially since in previous cases, workers claimed working conditions agreed to verbally were not upheld after starting their jobs.”

Employers must submit the original documents—confirmed by the workers with a signature or thumbprint—when submitting requests for work permits for their foreign employees.

If workers are found not to have reviewed all the employment documents in a language they understand, their employers will face a 20,000 dirham ($5,400) fine per worker and be subject to all punitive measures included in Council of Ministers Decision No. 40 of 2014, the statement said.

Work Permits Also Tied to Housing Conditions

In a separate development, Labor Minister Saqr Ghubash Saeed Ghubash said that work permits will not be issued to companies that fail to provide their workers with accommodations meeting international standards and requirements.

“The Labor Ministry is going ahead with implementing its policies, which also entitle it to deny issuance of new work permits to establishments that do not provide accommodations that are compliant” with cabinet-approved guidelines modeled on international standards, Ghubash said during an interministerial meeting Jan. 16.

“We want to ensure that laborers are not cheated of their rights and that their living conditions are comfortable, sanitary and humane,” Ghubash said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jenny David in Abu Dhabi at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at

For More Information 
More information on labor contracts and annexes is available in English at

For more information on UAE HR law and regulation, see the UAE primer.