Remote Work
December 15, 2020

Jake W.

All You Need to Know About Working as an Independent Contractor in the UAE

In most of the Western world, part-time work is a relatively common arrangement. For people with other commitments, or for those who require a more flexible schedule, part-time work can offer a steady income along with a schedule that works for them.

However, in the UAE, part-time work is far less common. In fact, until recently, it was incredibly difficult for companies in the UAE to legally employ and visa-sponsor employees on a part-time basis. 

In March 2018, a new statutory issuance from the UAE Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation (MOHRE) made part-time work a much more feasible option for employers. This means that businesses have the chance to employ people on more flexible contracts, while employees have the chance to work to a schedule that suits them better.

In this article, we’ll be discussing the legalities of Ministerial Decision No. 31 of 2018, which lays out the rules surrounding part-time work in the UAE. Read on to discover everything you need to know about the state of part-time work in the UAE since 2018.

Key Elements of Ministerial Decision No 31

If you’re considering hiring part-time employees, or you are hoping to work part-time in the UAE, here is the key legal information laid out in Ministerial Decision No. 31 of 2018 by MOHRE.

  • The part-time work permit
    The first crucial thing to note about working part-time in the UAE is that a part-time work permit is required in every case. This must be obtained from the MOHRE as part of a new part-time employment contract.
  • Who is eligible to work part-time in the UAE?
    Part-time work permits are only granted to certain individuals. The worker must either be a UAE national or a UAE expat with proven skills. This means the worker must hold a university degree or higher, or hold a diploma in their chosen technical or scientific field.
  • Primary employers vs. secondary employers
    MD No 31 stipulates that employers are regarded as either primary or secondary employers depending on the circumstance. Primary employers will be responsible for any costs that come with sponsoring the employee. They will also be required to provide statutory benefits as they would their other employees. Secondary employers are only required to pay salary on an hourly basis and are not required (but are permitted) to provide benefits for their employees.
  • What qualifies as part-time work?
    MD No 31 stipulates that only specific conditions qualify as part-time work. The part-time employee will be required to work at least 20 hours a week for a primary employer. For secondary employers, the worker can work as many hours as they choose. However, the worker is not permitted to work more than eight hours a day or 48 hours a week. In certain cases, this weekly limit can be increased to 60 hours per week as long as the employee has one full day off per week.

What Is the Procedure for Applying for Part-Time work?

If you need to apply for a part-time work permit, these will be the steps you follow at a MOHRE service center: 

  1. Your application form can be printed at the service center or at another establishment that is part of the Ministry’s e-forms program.
  2. Once your application form is complete, it will be sent to the Ministry electronically to be verified.
  3. You may be contacted to provide additional details at a service center.
  4. Once your request has been approved, your approval notice can be printed directly from the Ministry website.

Documents Required for Working Part-Time in the UAE

So, what will you need to provide when applying for a part-time work permit? The Ministry website lists the following required documents:

  • A copy of trade licenses for both establishments.
  • A color photo of the employee in front of a white background.
  • A copy of the employee’s passport.
  • A copy of any relevant academic documents.
  • A letter of approval from an authority if required.
  • A copy of the employer’s contract.
  • A “No Objection Certificate” from the old sponsor.
  • A copy of the employee’s worker visa that expires in no less than six months. 

Other Regulations to Note

There are a few other rules to note if you’re considering part-time work in the UAE.

  • Employees may be employed by multiple employers, but for their primary employer, they must work at least 20 hours a week.
  • Part-time work permits can cost anywhere between 100 AED and 500 AED depending on the category of permit required.
  • Employees must be over 18 years old to qualify.
  • The part-time work period cannot exceed six months—in other words, the work should be temporary.

A Summary of Part-Time Work in the UAE

The introduction of MD No 31 from MOHRE provides a great opportunity for both employers and employees. Part-time work opens up a whole host of new opportunities for both employers and employees in the UAE. 

For employers, the option to hire workers on a part-time basis allows for more flexible and efficient work. For employees, part-time work opens up opportunities for work that is both flexible and fulfilling. 

For UAE nationals and expats, securing a part-time work permit is a simple procedure. If you’re an employer, visit the Ministry’s website at to find out about beginning the process and transforming the way your company does business for the better.

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