Labor disputes and their facilitation in accordance with the UAE Labor Law

What are labor disputes?

The dispute, in general, is between two parties, each party has rights and obligations to the other party, and the origin of it is the existence of a contractual or legal obligation from one party that entitles the other party to claim and dispute before the competent authorities to consider disputes and ensure the delivery of the right to its owner, and among these disputes, labor disputes that arise between The employer or his representative and one of the workers or who is entitled to them according to the work relationship existing between them on the basis of the work contract, which is the first Sharia governing the relationship between the employer and the worker.

In addition to the provisions regulated by the laws that guarantee each participant in the work relationship the right to protect his rights and freedoms by filing a complaint before the competent labor offices to resolve the dispute amicably, otherwise submit the dispute to the competent labor court to resolve the dispute in accordance with the law, where the UAE labor law exempted the worker from litigation fees in order to facilitate For him to claim his right, and resorting to labor courts to resolve labor disputes is the way to protect the interests of the parties, but despite that, it is always considered a last resort, as negotiation outside the court is usually an amicable settlement that is easier for both parties in terms of time and cost, but the case is not accepted before the court except After passing through the Ministry for amicable settlement.

Labor disputes are not just a conflict between the employer, manager and employees but have a direct bearing on labor issues: working conditions, workplace safety, salary, and many other things, and its presence is not only during work but can, from the point of view of law, create a conflict Labor even before the person is hired or after his dismissal, for example, when the administration refuses to hire illegally, or when the termination compensation (unfair dismissal) is not paid to the dismissed employee, and breach of contract or labor law is one of the most common causes of labor disputes.

The worker is the weak party in the work contract by virtue of his subordination to the employer, who has the authority to direct, supervise and control the worker, so the laws tried to achieve a balance between the two parties to the relationship and guarantee him the right to claim and defend his rights. Primary, Appeal, Discrimination and Enforcement.

The right to raise a labor dispute is not limited to the worker and is not always the claimant by virtue of his subordination. Rather, the employer also has the right to raise a labor dispute before the Ministry and then the competent labor court when the worker breaches his obligations under the contract or violates the laws, regulations and regulations related to work that are not It is sufficient to take disciplinary action with it.

How is litigation in labor disputes facilitated in UAE law?

There are two matters that were the concern of the UAE legislator, the first: exempting the worker from litigation fees, and the second: the speedy settlement of labor disputes.

First: Exempting the worker from litigation fees in labor disputes against employers

The material conditions of the worker are usually difficult, and his income is limited to his salary, which is why many workers refrain from arguing with their employers to claim their rights in order to preserve their income; For this reason, the Emirati legislator came in solidarity with the workers to allow them the ability to confront the employer, as it stipulated exempting them from judicial fees in accordance with the text of Article Five of the Federal Labor Law, which states that: Or their beneficiaries, based on the provisions of this law, and its consideration is urgent, and the court, in the event of a ruling that the case is not accepted or rejected, may judge the one who filed it with all or some of the expenses).

Through the text of the previous article, we find that the exemption included all judicial fees, lawsuit fees, photographs, certificates, requests and others, as well as execution fees and all related implementation disputes and problems. The exemption also included all stages of primary litigation, appeal and cassation.

This right is guaranteed only to the worker or to those entitled on his behalf from the heirs or other eligible beneficiaries only, and the employer does not include it. This is in consideration of the worker’s side, for his inability to meet those costs, which are usually exorbitant.

Also, this right is guaranteed to every worker, regardless of his nationality, qualification or gender.

In the last text of the article, the legislator also gave the discretionary authority in the event of rejecting or not accepting the lawsuit, in order to prevent malicious lawsuits from workers who take advantage of those advantages that the law gave them at the expense of the employer and his reputation.

Also, this exemption is guaranteed by the force of law and does not require any procedures for its determination.

Second: The speed of settlement of labor disputes:

Litigation is usually slow to reach the judgment, in order to ensure that the right reaches its people, which needs to be deliberate to show the truth on which the judgment is based, but this harms litigants in general, especially workers who are unable to meet costs due to the length of litigation. Labor disputes and the application of everything that would expedite dismissal. This does not mean that labor disputes are urgent issues.

The main provisions related to labor disputes in the UAE Labor Law

Labor disputes

According to Article 6 of the UAE Labor Law No. 8 of 1980, an employer, employee or beneficiary of an employee may submit a complaint to the relevant Labor Department at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation regarding any of the rights they are entitled to under the Labor Law.

Before filing a labor dispute, it is advisable to know these provisions in advance:

  • Cases filed by workers or their beneficiaries shall be exempted from all judicial fees at all stages of litigation and implementation.
  • Claims brought by workers or their beneficiaries are heard quickly and efficiently.
  • In the event that the case is not accepted or dismissed, the court may order the plaintiff to pay all or part of the expenses.
  • In any case, you will not hear any claim for any rights due after one year from the date on which they become due.
  • No claim will be heard if the procedures stipulated in Article 6 of the UAE Labor Law are not complied with.
  • When the case is in court, the employee can apply for a temporary work permit from the ministry, until the case is resolved.
  • The new temporary work permit for six months for a fee of 500 dirhams paid by the new employer.
  • The new work permit is renewable for another six months.

However, not all types of individual labor disputes fall under the jurisdiction of the Labor Disputes Committee, as Article 6 of the Labor Law indicated that the lawsuit filed must be related to an individual dispute, and that the object of the prosecution in it should be the achievement of an individual interest, whether for a worker or an employer or any person entitled to them. That the disputed right accrues to the plaintiff in accordance with the provisions of the Labor Law, which includes all legal rules regulating labor relations.

Read also: Labor disputes and their facilitation according to the UAE Labor Law

Jurisdiction of the Dubai Labor Court in labor disputes:

Labor disputes

 The Labor Court is part of the Dubai Courts and is responsible for all labor disputes arising out of labor relations established either in the territory of Dubai or in any of the free zones in Dubai, with the exception of the Dubai International Financial Centre.

The Dubai Labor Court is competent to consider all cases arising from the application of the provisions of the laws and regulations regulating labor relations (Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 and its amendments) and Federal Law No. 10 of 2017 regarding domestic workers, which are the cases brought by the worker against the legal and natural employer in the private sector. Regarding his rights resulting from the contractual bond under the Labor Relations Regulation Law and the Domestic Workers Law referred to, or those brought by the employer against the worker and the counterclaims of the two parties.

In this court, there are two types of circuits: partial circuits, and total circuits. Partial departments are competent to hear labor disputes whose value does not exceed ten million dirhams, while total departments are competent to hear labor disputes whose value does not exceed ten million dirhams.

Litigation procedures in labor disputes in the Dubai Labor Court:

The UAE legislator was keen in the event of a dispute between a worker over the existing working relationship between them, so he guided the dispute to be settled in an amicable manner satisfactory to both parties. He did not allow recourse to judicial settlement until after the amicable settlement path had been exhausted.

First: Amicable settlement of labor disputes

Labor dispute requests must be submitted to the relevant Labor Department at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, where the concerned department summons the parties to the dispute and takes the measures it deems necessary to settle the dispute amicably. At this stage, the parties are not obligated to accept the settlement.

If the amicable settlement leads to a satisfactory result ending the dispute without the need to file a lawsuit in the labor court, then the Dubai Court of Cassation considers that the amicable settlement conducted in this way is a reconciliation contract between the two parties to the dispute, according to which the dispute ends. It is raised again, and the competent employee in the competent labor department to which the dispute-related request is referred creates a file for the dispute in which he proves all the actions he performs from the date of the request’s arrival to him and through the summoning of the parties to the dispute, their attendance and hearing their statements, and proof of the supporting documents submitted by them in support of their position, and any acts Other related matters, but in case of failure, here the case should be transferred to the labor court, within two weeks from the date of receiving the request.

Second: Litigation in the Dubai Labor Court

The competent labor department, if it fails to settle the individual labor dispute amicably, must refer the dispute within the specified period to the competent court for consideration and adjudication.

The competent court of the Dubai Labor Court shall, within three days from the date of receiving the application, set a session for the claim and notify the two parties. The court may request a representative of the labor department to attend and explain what is stated in the memorandum submitted by it.

The labor court usually hears the case without the parties giving their statements during the hearing where each party only submits its written pleadings including documentary evidence, such as employment contracts, correspondence between the parties and bank statements. Witnesses are heard only in exceptional circumstances. Hence, before proceeding with court proceedings, it is necessary to ensure that the plaintiff can adequately substantiate his claims by means of documents.

The procedures before the Dubai Labor Court are conducted in Arabic as all the documents that the parties wish to submit must be either in Arabic or translated into Arabic. The translations must be prepared by a translator approved by the Ministry of Justice.

It is worth noting that labor lawsuits arising from a right are arranged under the Labor Law, whether the plaintiff is the worker or the employer; You must take the path of amicable settlement first and then the judicial path. It is not right to resort to the judiciary directly, but it is necessary to refer the case to the competent labor department. If the plaintiff does not take the amicable path first, the court will automatically rule not to accept the case for not passing through the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, which is a prerequisite for accepting the case before the court.

Type of claim before the Dubai Labor Court

 In principle, claims in work-related matters can only be for cash payment. A typical example is a claim by an employee for compensation for what he considers to be unjustified dismissal by his employer. The UAE labor law does not provide for a demand for job reinstatement, moreover, it is unlikely that an injunction lawsuit will succeed, as is the case in the case of a post-contract non-competition clause violation.

Also, no claim for any right due under the Labor Law will be heard after one year from the date on which this right arose. Therefore, it must be ensured that court procedures are started in a timely manner. Therefore, the type of claim is based on the following:

  • Unpaid or reduced salary.
  • Breach of contract and unlawful dismissal.
  • Claims related to company restructuring.
  • Employees breach restrictive covenants and join competitors.

Lawyers authorized to speak in Dubai Labor Court

In the Court of First Instance, legal representation is not mandatory but it is advisable to appoint a lawyer. Only Emirati lawyers and some lawyers of other Arab nationalities are entitled to speak in court.

 Dubai Labor Court fees:

  • If the employer files a lawsuit, they must pay court fees of up to 5% of the total amount claimed, but not more than 20,000 dirhams.
  • The employee in turn does not have to pay any court fees up to a claim value of AED 100,000 as per Dubai Law No. 21 of 2015. If the amount in dispute exceeds 100,000 AED, the employee has to pay the same court fee as the employer, i.e. 5% of the amount in dispute, up to a maximum of AED 20,000.
  • At the sole discretion of the Court, whether, and to what extent, the losing defendant was ordered to pay any court fees to the winning plaintiff.
  • In general, each party must bear its own attorney’s fees.
  • The court awards the winning party only a small amount of between 2,000 and 5,000 dirhams at best.

Duration of judgment in the Dubai Court of Justice:

The length of legal proceedings depends on various factors, including the complexity of the case, the availability of parties, and the current workload of the labor court.

According to the Dubai Courts Annual Report 2017, the Labor Court proceedings took an average of 89.2 days from the date the complaint was submitted to the first instance judgment. The average waiting time between filing a complaint and the first hearing was 22 days. Efforts are being made to further expedite procedures in labor law matters. In November 2018, for example, a so-called remote litigation service was introduced. It enables the parties to a labor court dispute with a value of less than 20,000 dirhams to attend the hearings by electronic communication. Such cases will be heard by a single judge who can issue a ruling within 24 hours.

Appealing the Dubai Labor Court ruling:

The appeal is only accepted if the amount in dispute exceeds the appeal quorum of AED 20,000. For disputes up to this value, the judgment of the Court of First Instance is final and enforceable and cannot be appealed to a higher court. If the judgment is subject to appeal because it has reached the appeal quorum; The parties have 30 days from pronouncement of judgment to file the appeal, and the employee is exempted from paying any court fees at the appeal stage provided the value of the claim does not exceed 100,000 dirhams. Under certain circumstances, the decision of the Court of Appeal can be appealed to the Court of Cassation.

Procedures for implementing the Dubai Labor Court judgment:

if the judgment is final and the losing party does not comply with the judgment; The winning party must follow the application for enforcement of the judgment before the enforcement court, and accordingly the enforcement court will require the losing party to pay the amount awarded under the judgment within 15 days.

The fee for the execution procedures is 2% of the amount to be executed, with a minimum cost of 200 dirhams and a maximum cost of 5000 dirhams. The employee is again exempted from fees until the claim amount is 100,000 dirhams.

If the debtor does not pay after being asked by the execution court to do so, there are means that can be followed to compel the debtor to perform, including:

  1. confiscation of his bank accounts.
  2. Ministerial Resolution No. 797 of 2014 also authorizes the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation to block the employer’s file with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation until the employer pays the full amount, meaning, for example, that the employer can no longer apply for new work permits .
  3. If the employer owns shares in other companies, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation can also arrange the files of these companies to block them.
  4. In serious cases, arrest warrants and exit bans can also be issued against the employer’s general manager.