Can I Get Fired in the UAE For My Mental Health Condition? |

Can I Get Fired in the UAE For My Mental Health Condition?

Understanding the UAE law: Can an employer dismiss a worker due to their mental health?

Posted on

23 January 2024

Last updated on 19 June 2024
Can you get fired in the UAE for having a mental health condition?

Got a mental health condition? Here's what you need to know.

Everyone is different, with visible or invisible struggles that we deal with. For some, this manifests as a mental health condition ranging in severity.

In a 2020 study from Expatica, it was found that around 57% of UAE residents suffered from at least one type, with anxiety and depression being the most common ones.

This brings us to the question: Can a UAE employer fire an employee for having a mental health condition?

Can a UAE employer dismiss an employee for having a mental illness?

On December 2023, the UAE government issued a new Federal Law regarding mental health. Under the decree, employers in the UAE are not allowed to terminate workers over a mental health condition.

UAE employers also cannot restrict job opportunities from potential hires over a candidate's mental health status.

What are the penalties?

An employer may receive a fine of between AED 50,000 to AED 200,000 for violating the mental health law.

The mental health law was introduced to preserve the rights and dignity of UAE residents with mental health conditions, and to promote their integration into society.

Can a UAE employer dismiss an employee over a mental health condition?

On what grounds can an employee get dismissed over a mental health condition?

If an employee's mental health is impacting their performance, resulting in the worker's inability to do their job for mental health reasons, then the employer can take action to try to address the situation.

In some cases, this may result in terminating the employee's contract with the company only if it was done after a full and fair decision-making process. Failure to do a reasonable case evaluation may result in the employer receiving a costly fine of no less than AED 50,000 as per the UAE's mental health law.

What if the work environment caused or exacerbated my mental health condition?

All employees in the UAE are entitled to be in a work environment where risks to their health and safety are adequately controlled, which includes their physical and mental health.

If the employee’s mental health condition was caused or exacerbated by work-related issues, steps must be taken to create a safe working environment for him or her.

This means that employers must foster a compassionate and understanding environment, where workers feel secure in their career's journey and can seek help without fearing repercussions.

Can a UAE employer dismiss an employee over a mental health condition?

Can a mental health day count as sick leave in the UAE?

The UAE Labour Law does not really discriminate between physical and mental illness. Illness is illness. You can file for sick leave on the grounds of a physical illness (for example, a cold, fever, or a bodily injury), or you can also get sick leave for a mental health condition such as depression.

However, if you take at least two or more consecutive days of sick leave, you are required to present a medical certificate to your HR or employer from a licensed hospital, clinic, or health centre in the UAE.

In a year, employees can take up to 90 days of continuous or intermittent sick leave:

  • 15 days of paid sick leave.
  • 30 days of half-pay sick leave.
  • 45 days of unpaid sick leave.

Workers may be dismissed only if they are unable to report for work after.

How can I report my employer?

If you feel that your employment contract was unfairly dismissed on the grounds of your mental health condition without a full and fair evaluation from your employer, you can report your employer through the UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE).