Cabinet Resolution No. (25) of 2010 concerning Internal Work Permits Applicable in the Ministry of Labour ("Cabinet Resolution") has recently introduced five new types of work permit1 to the private sector2 in the UAE, including the long-awaited part-time work permit. The Cabinet Resolution has been welcomed by both employers and employees as it comes in answer to consistent requests in the private sector for a major revamp in the Labour Law. However, the reality is that the Cabinet Resolution is unlikely to bring significant change to the UAE labour market. This article looks at the practical implications of the Cabinet Resolution on employment in the private sector, by analyzing the provisions governing the issuance of part-time work permits and how they might actually fail to achieve the objectives and advantages usually expected from part-time work.
The standard definition of "part time work"
A definition proposed by the International Labour Organization ILO refers to part-time work as "regular employment in which working time is substantially less than normal". Hence, part-time employees are those who work fewer hours than full-time employees of an organisation.
There are generally three main categories of individuals for which part-time employment is a necessity or preference:
- Parents who need a flexible employment arrangement allowing them to spend more time raising their children
- Students wishing to earn money whilst continuing their full time education
- Retirees who wish to remain in employment. (Note that a part-time work permit for this category is restricted by statutory provisions in the UAE as explained further below).
Statutory provisions for part-time work permits in the UAE
Part-time work permits in the UAE are essentially governed by two main legislations:
- Cabinet Resolution
- Ministerial Resolution No. (1188) of 2010 Concerning the Regulations and Conditions for Granting Internal Work Permits ("Ministerial Resolution") which sets forth the implementation regulations of Cabinet Resolution and became effective on 1 January 2011.3
The Cabinet Resolution defines a part-time work permit as "the permit whereby a national or non-national is recruited in a job with working hours less than the normal working hours of full-time workers engaged in the same job at any organization."4
The Ministerial Resolution lists four categories of workers who are eligible for a part-time work permit:
2. Persons who meet the requirements for granting work permits at the residence permit of their relations.
3. Students who are above 18 years of age.
4. Government servants.6
The Ministerial Decision also states that part-time work permits cannot be given to non-nationals older than 65 and that a worker may be granted a part-time work permit at more than one organisation at the discretion of the Ministry of Labor.
Failure to achieve the objectives and advantages of part-time work
Recruiting part-time employees has a range of potential benefits, for both employers and employees.
From an employer's perspective, it is an efficient way to save money in areas where full-time employees are not required, by employing highly skilled and experienced people without paying a full-time salary. Part-time employment also helps employers deal with change during times where there is increased workload at peak times, for example during weekends or over the festive season, without having to bear the financial burden of full-time employees.
From an employee's perspective, it allows them to achieve a better work-life balance, by allowing them to dedicate time to family commitments, while benefiting from the same legal protection as full-time employees in relation to, salary, benefits, entitlements, termination and severance pay.
It is arguable that the above legislation does not actually set out detailed provisions dealing specifically with part-time work permits and the mandatory provisions governing part-time employment contracts such as working hours, duration of part-time employment contracts, probation periods, leave and benefits, termination or severance pay.
Indeed, there are only two articles in the Ministerial resolution regulating part-time work in the UAE. The first provision7 states that an employee working in accordance with any of the systems set out in the Ministerial decision shall be entitled to benefits as per the Labour Law, as if they were employed on a full time basis, subject to the period of service and wage. The second provision8 stipulates that part-time work permits granted by the Ministry of Labor will not be renewed once they have expired, meaning new applications need to be submitted if the employee/employer wishes to continue the part-time working relationship for a longer period.
The regulation of part-time work in the UAE remains unclear so far, and the private sector must be eagerly awaiting further ministerial resolutions fleshing out the rules governing part-time employment.9 Meanwhile, employers recruiting part-time employees are bound to abide by the provisions of the Labour Law as it stands, which at the moment limits the advantages of employing part-time employees.
Although the introduction of part-time work permits bridges the way for a more flexible labour law framework in the private sector, the impact and benefits of the new permits will not be felt by the market until legislation is further developed and clarified on the subject.
1 Work transfer permit, temporary work permit, part time work permit, Work Permit for Personnel Sponsored by their Kinship and Juvenile Persons Work Permit.
2 In the public sector, part-time employment is permitted pursuant to Article (10) of Decree by Federal Law No. (11) of 2008 concerning Human Resources in the Federal Government which has been amended by virtue of Decree by Federal Law No. (9) of 2011.
3 Article (13) of Ministerial Decision.
4 Article (2) of Cabinet Resolution.
5 This category of employees will need the approval of their main employer before being provided with a part-time permit to work after hours. This requirement of pre-approval is waived where the employee has filed a labor action with the courts.
6 Article (3) of Ministerial Decision.
7 Article (7) of Ministerial Decision.
8 Article (11) of Ministerial Decision.
9 For instance, in the public sector Articles (11) and (12) of Cabinet Decision No. (13) of 2010 concerning the Implementation Regulation of Decree by Federal Law No. (11) of 2008 concerning Human Resources in the Federal Government contain elaborated provisions regulating part-time employment such as working hours, amount of salary, leaves entitlements, etc.