How is a Labour ban in the UAE imposed?

One of the most perplexing aspects that an employee comes across during their period of employment in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the concept of labour ban, and the difference between the immigration ban and labour ban, and their implications. If you are a resident of the UAE, it is necessary to understand how these bans can also affect one’s residency visa status. 

In UAE, an employer has the right to apply to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) for imposing a labour ban against the employee under certain circumstances as provided by the provisions of the Federal Law Number 8 of 1980 Concerning the Regulation of Labour Relations (the Labour Law) and Ministerial Decrees issued by the MoHRE on Employment-related rules and regulations. A labour ban essentially implies that a person who is imposed with a labour ban is restricted from working in UAE for a stipulated period or in some cases permanently. 

The duration of the labour ban can last from a period of six (6) months to one (1) year. Precisely, attaining a new work permit is only possible after the expiry of the period of such labour ban, or as per the applicable provisions on the lifting of such ban before the end of the period for which such labour ban was issued. 

Whereas, the immigration (travel) ban is issued by the Ministry of Interior, to bar a person who is found to be involved in any illegal or unlawful activities, from entering or re-entering or leaving the country. For instance, an immigration ban is imposed on a person in cases of an ongoing criminal investigation or bounced cheque, or even an employer can apply for an immigration ban on an employee who has not shown up to work for a prolonged period without notifying the employer. 

Unlike the immigration ban which restricts the person from entering the country or obtaining any kind of visa option to stay in the UAE, a labour ban will not have any such effect on one’s immigration, as that person is only restricted from obtaining an employment visa and as long as that person is under a sponsorship visa, their residency visa remains unaffected too. They can further apply for jobs at the sectors where a MoHRE work permit is not required, like free zone companies. This article intends to elucidate on all the relevant laws governing the labour ban for the employees working in UAE in a manner providing answers to the basic queries one might have with regards to the same. 


On whom can the Labour Ban be Imposed:

A Labour ban is meant to be imposed on any person who breaches either the terms of the employment contract or the provisions of the Labour Law. Whether skilled or unskilled workers, as long as they hold valid work permits like employment residency visas, labour permits, labour cards or a labour contract, can fall under the possibility of being issued with the labour ban. This implies that as long as any person who can violate any provisions of the Labour Law or the Ministerial Decrees issued by the Ministry of Labour can be imposed with a labour ban.


Who can issue a Labour Ban:

In general, the labour ban is issued by the MoHRE, but where it is a matter of serious criminal offence, illegal entry or security issues, such a ban is issued by the General Directorate of Foreign Affairs (GDRFA). Grounds on which a Labour Ban can be Initiated: An employer can apply to the MoHRE for a labour ban on the employee under the following circumstances:

Article 120 of the Labour Law provides the following reasons under which an employer is entitled to dismiss the employee without giving any prior notice:

  1. If the employee has submitted misleading documents or has undertaken untrue identity;
  2. If the worker is on a probation period and where such worker has sought termination during or at the end of the probation period;
  3. If the employer suffered any massive loss due to the negligence of the employee during work, provided such matter has been brought to the notice of the labour department within a period of forty-eight (48) hours from the time when such incident occurred;
  4. If the worker failed to observe the safety instructions, provided such instructions have been duly posted in a prominent location unless such work is illiterate;
  5. If the employee failed to execute his main duties in line with the terms of the employment contract, and further has not taken any action regarding the same despite being warned about the same;
  6. Where such an employee discloses trade secrets of the place, where the employee works.
  7. If the employee has been convicted by any competent court on matters related to the crime of honour, honesty or public ethics;
  8. Where the employee is found intoxicated or has consumed narcotic drugs during the working hours;
  9. If the employee is found assaulting the employer or any other co-workers during the working hours;
  10. If the employee has not shown up to work for an inconsequential period of twenty (20) days in one (1) year, or a continuous period of seven (7) days.

On applying for a labour ban, the legal researcher in MoHRE will conduct a thorough investigation of the case, where both the employer and employee are allowed to give their statements. Thereafter, the legal researcher shall evaluate the reasons presented and accordingly if satisfied, shall impose a labour ban on the employee or can reject where the reasons are not satisfactory. However, the employee still has an option of objecting to such a labour ban by submitting his/her grievance to the MoHRE and filing a necessary lawsuit. The employee contesting such a labour ban is required to attach all the supporting documents proving that such a labour ban is arbitrary and vague. Thereafter, the MoHRE shall form a special committee which is headed by the undersecretary and some of the directors of the relevant departments to analyze the request. Accordingly, based upon their conclusion they may either lift the ban or keep the ban active. 


Duration of the Labour Ban:

  1. In case of a Limited Contract: Article 128 of the Labour Law states that if a non-national employee resigns the work without any valid reason before the completion of the term of the employment contract, can be imposed with a labour ban for one (1) year from the date of resigning the work.
  2. In case of Unlimited Contract: Article 129 stipulates that if a non-national employee prefers to terminate the employment contract before the expiry of the legally prescribed notice period, shall be imposed with a labour ban for one (1) year.

However, according to the Ministerial Decree Number 766 of 2015 as amended by the Ministerial Decree Number 1094 of 2016 on the Rules and Conditions for Granting a Permit to a Worker for Employment by a New Employer, an employee is entitled to receive a new work permit upon their termination in the following circumstances:



However, this same rule is not applicable in cases if such employees fall under the following categories:

  1. If such an employee falls under the category of skill levels one (1) (employees with bachelor’s degree), two (2) (diploma holders) and three (3) (higher secondary qualifications);
  2. Employees who fall under the category of skill level four (4) and five (5), but if they can obtain work permits under the categories of skill levels one (1), two (2) and three (3) and such employees must possess the required qualifications to work under such skill levels. These employees are generally unskilled labour without any qualification;
  3. Employees belonging to skill levels four (4) and five (5) and have worked for their previous employer for six (6) months;
  4. Where the workers are on dependent or sponsorship visas of their family members and if they meet all the essential requirements for obtaining a work permit;
  5. Workers who applied for work permits from the same employer who cancelled their work permit, as long as such workers have no other new work permits from any other organizations which are owned by the same employer.
  6. Where either of the party prefers to terminate the employment contract, then such terminating party is required to notify the other party in writing of such intentions and thereafter, the terminating party is required to observe the contractual obligations for the agreed notice period which shall not be less than one (1) month or exceed more than a period of three (3) months. 


Likewise, if the employer prefers to terminate the employment contract without any reasons on the part of the employee, then such employee is exempted from labour ban, as long as they have worked for the employer for six (6) months, subject to the same exceptions as stated above. The same rules shall be applicable in the case of an unlimited employment contract.


Article 4 of the Ministerial Resolution Number 1186 of 2010 states that a work permit can be granted to an employee, even if such employee has not met the requirement of working for the employer for two (2) years if such employee:


However, for both limited or unlimited employment contracts, a new work permit can be granted irrespective of the above-stated requirements in cases where:


Labour Ban shall not be applicable in cases:

  1. If the employee is a UAE national; 
  2. If the employee is shifting to government jobs
  3. If the employee is shifting to free zone areas;
  4. In case of the unlimited term contract, if the employee has worked for the employer for six (6) months or has worked for more than three (3) years;
  5. In case of the limited-term contract, then on meeting the requirements set by the ministerial decrees.

Labour ban now can be lifted or be avoided in line with provisions of the ministerial Decree Number 1094 of 2016 and Ministerial Resolution Number 1186 of 2010 where it gives preference to workers with educational qualifications. Thereby, upon obtaining consent from the employer and serving the mutually agreed notice period, an employee can break the employment contract even before the completion of six (6) months, without the fear of being imposed with the labour ban. However, that is the same when it comes to workers belonging to skill levels 4 and 5 unless they fall under the exceptions stated above.