Starting a business requires capital. And, unless you’ve got oodles of cash lying around, you’re going to need access to money which will support you through those first tough months until you start turning a profit.
For many entrepreneurs, one straightforward option here is to ‘moonlight’ on the side of your main job until you have enough savings to take the leap. Alternatively, you could work part time for someone else while you build your business up. However, if you’re looking to work part-time in the UAE this might be harder than you’d expect.
Unlike many western nations, GCC countries generally have a much less open approach to flexible working and part-time contracts.
Unlike many western nations, GCC countries generally have a much less open approach to flexible working and part-time contracts. The legislation has traditionally made it “difficult, expensive, or impractical” to hire people for anything but full-time work, according to Booz & Company, the consultants. To illustrate this, when the World Economic Forum asked business executives around the world about the most problematic factors for doing business in their country, those in the UAE cited ‘restrictive labour regulations’ among the top five barriers.
Essentially, the notion of part-time working is relatively new in the UAE. And while innovative legislation was passed earlier in 2018 to facilitate more part-time working, it is not yet widely understood.
In this article, we’ll explore the process for getting a part-time work permit in the UAE, and cover everything you need to know to apply.
Understanding the key factors of part-time work in the UAE
If you are looking to work part-time in the UAE, your circumstances will affect exactly how you can apply:
- You are currently employed by someone else: If you currently have a contract working full time for someone else, you will need to receive a no-objection certificate (NOC) from your primary employer which confirms that they agree to you taking on the extra work. This means you will have to have ‘the conversation’ with your boss about why you need that extra money.
- You are solely working part-time: As of March 2018, a new legal framework (Ministerial Decision No. 31) came into effect which allows employers to hire part time workers – although they must work a minimum of 20 hours for their primary employer. After that, the employee can work as much as they want for other people too, without requiring an NOC from their main employer
In either case, this legislation only applies if your employer is a mainland business. If you are currently working for a company in a UAE free zone, then the new rules don’t apply to you. The regulations in free zones are different to contracts on the mainland and you will therefore need to enquire with your free zone’s authorities to find out what you can and can’t do. Learn more about the UAE’s free zones in our free guide.
It’s also important to note that any kind of trading or business activities you instigate as part of your new enterprise must go through the official business licensing channels. For instance, you might decide to set yourself up as a freelancer, while also working part-time for someone else. This is perfectly possible, but you will also need to apply for a freelance license from a free zone, for instance, and receive an NOC from your part-time employer permitting you to do this.
How to apply for a part-time work permit in the UAE
Whatever your situation, the actual process of applying for a part-time work permit is relatively straightforward, as outlined by the Ministry of Labour (MOHRE):
1. Visit a Tas’heel service centre to print out your application form
2. MOHRE will then check and verify your application
3. Receive your approval notice
In order to complete your application, you will need a number of related documents:
- A copy of the trade licenses of all the businesses you plan to work for
- A colour photograph of yourself
- A copy of your passport
- Any relevant academic qualifications
- A letter of approval from relevant authorities as required
- A copy of your new work contract
- An NOC from your sponsor (if required)
- A copy of your residency visa which is valid for more than six months
For expat workers, a part-time work permit is currently set at six months – so you will need to update the permit if you hope to continue working part-time for a longer period.
How much does a UAE part-time work permit cost?
The cost of the application is fairly low but is always paid by the employer who is recruiting the part time employee:
- Initial application: 100 AED
- Approval of the permit: 500 AED
- Tas’Heel processing fees
Part-time, all the time
Working part-time is a fairly new concept in the UAE and is not currently that well understood. There’s still quite a few bureaucratic hoops you’ll need to jump through, and the requirement to get a no-objection certificate from your current sponsor can make the move a little tricky for people that are looking to save enough money to launch a business. All the same, some recent (welcome) changes in legislation show that the political will is there to support people who want to cut down the number of hours they work and find a part-time contract that suits them better.
Are you looking to work part-time in order to start up a business on the side? Read our UAE free zone company set-up guide to get you started.
Setting up your own business has never been easier. Virtuzone takes care of it all so you can focus on what matters – building your business. For more information about company formation in the UAE mainland or free zones, please call us on +971 4 457 8200, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or click here.