Question: I am a freelancer based in the UAE. I understand companies in the country are bound to pay salaries on time as stipulated in employment contracts. How about freelancers like us? Sometimes, companies delay paying freelancers like me for weeks or even months. Do we have a complaints mechanism?
Response: Pursuant to your queries, we assume that you are employed as a freelancer by a mainland entity in the UAE and you have relevant freelance work permits issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (the ‘MOHRE’). Therefore, the provisions of Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Employment Relations (the 'Employment Law') and the Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022 on the Implementation of Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 Regarding the Regulation of Employment Relations (the 'Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022') are applicable.
The Employment Law includes the freelance work permit as a legal form of work permit in the UAE. The freelance model of work is defined in Article 8 of the Cabinet Resolution No.1 of 2022, which reads as:
1. Freelance is an independent and flexible work arrangement, whereby the natural person generates income by providing his services for a specified period of time or performing a task or providing a specific service, whether for individuals or establishments, whereas this natural person is in no way a worker for those individuals or establishments.
2. The Cabinet shall, based on the Minister’s proposal, issue the necessary resolutions for determining the procedures, rules and mechanisms for registering freelancers in the Ministry’s systems and for obtaining, renewing and cancelling the work permit, in a manner that ensures the enhancement of labour market flexibility and its requirements.”
Freelance work permit has been specifically mentioned in Article 6(1)(l) of the Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022 and it reads as: “Subject to the provisions of Article (6) of the Decree-Law, the types of work permits shall be determined as follows:
Freelance permit: This permit is issued to individuals wishing to undertake independent self-employment without being sponsored by a specific organization or employer in the State and without the condition of having a valid employment contract, whereby the natural person earns money by providing his services for a specific period or performing a task or providing a specific service, whether to individuals or establishments, whereas this natural person is in no way a worker for those individuals or establishments.”
Based on the aforementioned provisions of law, your freelance employment in the UAE is within the purview of prevailing Employment Law, Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022 and subsequent ministerial decrees if you have the relevant work permit(s) issued by MOHRE for each of the employers with whom you are working on freelance basis.
It is the responsibility of the employer to pay the salary of the employees on time in accordance with Wages Protection System as mentioned in Article 16(1) of the Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022. In the event the employer does not pay the salary of the employees on time, then MOHRE may take necessary legal actions against such employer. This is in accordance with Article 16(2) of the Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022.
Therefore, as a freelancer if your employer(s) delays in paying your salary, you may initiate an employment complaint against your employer with the MOHRE in accordance with the Article 54 of the Employment Law and Article 31 of the Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022.
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