Contrary to popular understanding, the probation period is the opportunity for both the employer and the employee to assess either party in terms of their fit.
In the UAE, the probation period is generally 3 months and can be extended up to 6 months but overall cannot exceed 6 months. Also, employees can be placed under probation only once in the lifetime of their employment with an employer.
Here are some key guidelines to manage this period in compliance with the new UAE Labour Law issued in February 2022.
1. The Duration of the Probation Period
As per the law under the Ministry of Labour, companies can hire employees on a probation period of a maximum of 6 months. While some companies keep it shorter, about 2-3 months, it cannot be extended beyond 6 months. In the event that the employee is moved into a new role, either laterally or through a promotion, they cannot be placed under a second probation period.
2. Contract Termination
During the probationary period, either the employee or the employer can initiate termination of the contractual arrangement. As per the new UAE Labour Law, the party that initiates the termination is required to provide a minimum notice period even during probation. Employees intending to leave the country would require to provide a 14 days’ notice period, whereas those moving to a new job in UAE would need to give a 30-day notice period to the other party.
There are a few exceptional circumstances in which employees may be let go or leave their employer. The clause states that an employee has the right to quit immediately if their employer fails to uphold their rights or if they are attacked by their employer or a legal representative.
3. Sick Leave
As per the UAE Labour Law, employees are not entitled to paid sick leave during their probation period. However, this does not prohibit an employer allowing employees to take time off due to sickness in line with their internal practices.
The employer may be entitled to compensation if the employee wants to end the contract during the probationary period. As previously stated, if an employee resigns in order to accept a new position in UAE, a longer notice period is required. Employees should also take note that if they intend to return to the UAE within 3 months to start new employment, the new employer might be obliged to compensate the previous employee.
As per the law, employees are entitled to gratuity only after completing a year of service at the current organisation. That being said, should an employee exit during the probation period, they may be entitled to compensation for the time worked as well as the notice period as specified in the Employment Contract. They may also be entitled to cash in lieu of unused annual leave that was accrued during the probation months.
In order to ensure protection for both, the employer and the employee, it is important to ensure that a legally compliant Employment Contract is in place.
As HR Consultants with over 35 years of experience in the UAE, our team can help you with creating a Employment Contract that will clearly articulate and address all aspect of the employment relationship.