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We are privileged to have been involved in the consultation phase (which was launched in December 2011) where the various amendments were discussed and also in the drafting of the amendments on behalf of the DIFC Authority, which are the most significant amendments that have been made to the DIFC Employment Law since it was first introduced.
By way of background, DIFC Employment Law No. 4 of 2005 (“DIFC Employment Law”) sets out all of the obligations and requirements on employers and employees operating within the DIFC. The amendments to the DIFC Employment Law were introduced pursuant to the implementation of the Employment Amendment Law, DIFC Law No. 3 of 2012 and were effective from 23 December 2012.
The amendments to the DIFC Employment Law tackled a variety of areas in respect of the relationship between employers and employees. As well as clarifying some of the rules and making them generally more user-friendly, the amendments have also sought to develop some important employee rights. In particular, the provisions regarding discrimination were significantly amended and the concepts of harassment, direct discrimination and indirect discrimination are now more consistent with the same concepts as defined in the UK Equality Act 2010.
The key amendments to the DIFC Employment Law are:
– there is a clear distinction between the provisions prohibiting indirect and direct discrimination;
– there is now protection for employees against harassment on the grounds of a protected characteristic;
– the definition of a disability is set out in greater detail;
– the provisions specifically state that they protect employees only; and
– employers may now justify indirect discrimination where their actions are a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
– Employers are permitted to provide the written itemised pay statement and retention of payroll records in an electronic format.
– Employers are required to pay departing employees all wages and any other outstanding amount within 14 days of the termination of employment. If an employer fails to comply with this requirement, a penalty will be payable to the employee which is equivalent to his/her daily wage for each day the employer is in arrears.
– Reduced Ramadan hours are now applied for fasting Muslim employees only.
– Employees are entitled to national holidays which fall on working days only.
– All Muslim employees are entitled 30 days unpaid leave to go on a Haj pilgrimage after one year of employment.
– There were additions and amendments to the defined terms set out within Schedule 1 to the DIFC Employment Law.
Please contact any member of the employment team directly for further information or assistance, or contact the head of the team, Samir Kantaria (firstname.lastname@example.org).