14 March 2024

Shuchi Goel

In 2023, the employment law landscape across the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), and Qatar underwent significant legislative transformations. 

Dubai: These reforms underscore the dedication of regional governments to improving labor relations, advancing nationalization efforts, and tackling new workforce challenges. This article offers an in-depth review of the major legislative changes in each nation and their impact on the business ecosystem, employers, and workers.

1. United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Extension of Employment Contract Transition Period:

The UAE took a crucial step with Ministerial Resolution No. 27/2023, amending the UAE Labour Law to extend the transition period for converting unlimited term contracts to fixed-term contracts until the end of 2023. This move provided a grace period for both businesses and employees to adapt to the updated contract structure.

Increased Penalties for Emiratisation Non-Compliance:

Resolution No. 44/2023 introduced steeper fines for businesses failing to meet Emiratisation quotas, with penalties escalating from AED100,000 for initial violations to AED500,000 for repeated breaches, aiming to enforce nationalization efforts more strictly.

Administrative Fines for Labour Violations:

With Ministerial Resolution No. 296/2023, the UAE established a framework for administrative fines for labor law violations, reinforcing the importance of adhering to labor regulations.

Employment Opportunities for Emirati Students:

Ministerial Decision No. 240/2023 was introduced to allow Emirati students to engage in paid work while pursuing their studies, aiming to integrate educational and practical work experiences.

Emiratisation Targets for Smaller Businesses:

Through Resolution No. 455 of 2023, the UAE set forth Emiratisation targets for smaller enterprises, with significant fines imposed for non-compliance, emphasizing the government's commitment to increasing citizen employment in the private sector.

Unemployment Insurance Scheme Extension:

The deadline for registering in the Unemployment Insurance Scheme was extended to September 2023 by Ministerial Decision No. 604/2022, providing additional time for compliance and outlining penalties for non-enrollment.

Clarification on Worker's Rights Upon Death:

Ministerial Decision No. 496/2023 clarified employer obligations regarding deceased employees, ensuring timely cancellation of work permits and payment of entitled benefits to the families.

Streamlined Employment Dispute Resolution:

Federal Law No. 20/2023 updated the employment dispute resolution process, making it more efficient for claims under AED50,000.

Pension and Social Insurance Reforms:

2023 saw a comprehensive update to the pension and social insurance system, adjusting contribution rates to ensure the system's sustainability.

Alternative to End-of-Service Gratuity:

Cabinet Resolution No. 96 of 2023 introduced an alternative to the traditional end-of-service gratuity, allowing employers to contribute to employee savings accounts.

Anti-Discrimination Legislation:

Federal Law No. 34/2023 enhanced measures against discrimination, hatred, and extremism, broadening the definition of extremism and updating penalties for related offenses.

Mental Health Legislation:

Federal Law No. 10/2023 marked a significant shift in mental health legislation, focusing on the rights and protections of individuals with mental disorders.

2. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)

Enhanced Rights for Persons with Disabilities:

Cabinet Decision No. 110 of 1445 aimed to ensure equal employment opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, emphasizing non-discrimination in the workplace.

Workplace Equality and Inclusivity:

Cabinet Decision No. 416 of 1444 endorsed a national policy for equal employment opportunities, outlining a strategic plan for its implementation.

Digital Service Certificate Facility:

An online service certificate facility was launched for private sector employees, simplifying administrative procedures.

Social Security Pension Increase:

The social security pension was increased, reflecting the government's commitment to social welfare.

3. State of Qatar

Retirement and Pension Law:

Qatar introduced a new Social Insurance Law, extending comprehensive retirement and pension benefits to employees.


The legislative changes in 2023 have significantly impacted the employment sectors in the UAE, KSA, and Qatar, setting a foundation for a dynamic and equitable workforce. These reforms address current challenges and pave the way for future advancements. Employers and employees must remain informed about these changes to navigate the evolving legal environment successfully.


ALKETBI team is highly skilled and frequently provides legal assistance specializing in sustaining employers and employees. For further insights and updates on employment law reforms, visit our website and social media platforms as it provides valuable resources and guidance for understanding the complex landscape of employment law in the region and beyond. If you request further guidance or you have concerns and queries, Let us know!

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