The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has enacted a new employment law addressing key issues such as paternity leave, sick pay and end-of-service settlements.
The new law, which will come into effect on August 28, 2019, provides updated benefits for both employees and employers, including greater protection from discrimination and more clarity on gratuity payments. Age, maternity and pregnancy have been added to the non-discrimination clause, which previously stated that employers could not discriminate based on sex, marital status, race, nationality, or mental or physical disability.
Employees will also now be entitled to a gratuity payment, regardless of the circumstances of their termination, unlike the previous law which denied gratuity if an employee was terminated for misbehaviour. Penalties have also been introduced to ensure adherence to basic conditions of employment, visa and residency sponsorship.
One of the most important features is the introduction of paternity leave for the first time. The new law provides for five days of paid paternity leave for new fathers as well as one-hour nursing breaks for new mothers in addition to the normal daily one-hour break.
In comparison, Singapore allows for 2 weeks of paid paternity leave funded by the government for new fathers. However, in the US only five states (New York State, California, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Washington, D.C.) currently mandate paid parental leave. And in India, only civil servants working in the Central Government are entitled to paternity leave, not private sector workers.
Welcoming the new initiative, Siraj Ahmad, working in Six Construct in Dubai, said, “There are lots of provisions in the new law for protecting the rights of the employees. The introduction of paternity leave is a sign of the progressive attitude of the government and the adherence to international standards. However, the new law should be widely disseminated among the people in Dubai so that employees can be aware of their rights.”
At the same time, sick leave has been reduced from 90 days to 60 days and instead of full pay for all days, employees are only entitled to full pay for 10 working days and half pay for 20 working days.
Other employer-focused provisions include expansion of employee duties, limiting the application of mandatory late penalty payments for end-of-service settlements and recognising settlement agreements between employers and employees.
“The DIFC Employment Law enhancements are integral to creating an attractive environment for the almost 24,000-strong workforce based in the DIFC to thrive, while protecting and balancing the interests of both employers and employees,” said Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC.