Follow Your Entrepreneurial Dreams: Full-time Employees In The UAE Can Also Work As Co-Founders Of Startups

Follow Your Entrepreneurial Dreams: Full-time Employees In The UAE Can Also Work As Co-Founders Of Startups
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Follow Your Entrepreneurial Dreams: Full-time Employees In The UAE Can Also Work As Co-Founders Of Startups

Wannabe entrepreneurs in the UAE can benefit from changes in the country’s labour system that allows for employees to take on part-time work in addition to their full-time roles, a legal expert has said.

In a landmark move last year, the UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation implemented a new system that would allow employees to work for more than one employer, without having to obtain an approval from their primary employer.

National news agency WAM said in a statement that companies could hire employees on part-time contracts from both inside and outside the country, so long as the employees acquired a permit from the Ministry.

“Entrepreneurs usually face a cash liquidity obstacle, [but] with the opportunity to work part-time, entrepreneurs can set-up a business and be a full-time employee of that business, and at the same time work part-time as a means of extra income generation,” Mahmoud Abuwasel, co-founder, partner at local law firm Bin Nakhira & Partners, said in an interview.

“On the other hand, because any new entity requires a registered manager or director, current employees with entrepreneurial initiatives have the opportunity to set-up a business and be the registered manager or director to get the ball rolling until the business can generate enough income to suffice for them as their primary occupation.”

Moreover, he added, the system allows more founders to be part of an establishment process, as they can maintain their full-time or part-time jobs in addition to the new business.

“This increases the pool of skill sets, expertise, or simply passionate persons that could collaborate as co-founders of a new business.”

The WAM statement added that non-competitor clauses do not apply to such employees, even if the employer claims conflict of interest related to divulging trade secrets, unless a court issues an order to this effect.

However, Abuwasel recommends that private sector employees be transparent in their dealings to avoid misunderstandings.

“Even if there is no requirement for an employee to inform their primary employer before engaging in a part time job, it is best to avoid the risk and be transparent about this,” he advised. “For private sector employees, I would comfortably say that most disputes occur out of a seed of misunderstanding that blooms into a quarrel.”

The expert added that, practically speaking, some employment agreements “may be variable on time and place commitments”.

“In other words, the employment agreement may grant the employer the right to change the workplace or timings, which (if changed) could contend with the employee’s part-time job commitments.” he explained.

“So, hashing out these granular details before the employee makes a commitment to a part-time job, which would have its own obligations, is advisable.”

Abuwasel also suggests that employees obtain a clear understanding of their primary employer’s bylaws, policies, or any other internal regulations, which could be unintentionally violated in the course of the part-time job.

Meanwhile, the lawyer added, public sector employees need be “weary of utilizing any information or authority granted in that public sector job for the benefit of a part-time job”.

“Sometimes, the position held by a public sector employee could implicitly support them in their part-time job which could arguably have contentious results,” he explained.

Nasser bin Thani Al Hamli, UAE Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, told WAM that the new system would promote flexibility in the labour market and fulfill the needs of employers based on the availability of employees in the labour market. He added that the part-time contracts would reduce labour costs, especially when it comes to employees who are already in the country.

Dubai Startup Hub recently launched “Co-Founder Dubai”, a new programme that will help match UAE entrepreneurs to the right co-founder to support their growth plans. Open to all UAE entrepreneurs, this first-of-its-kind pilot matchmaking programme offers startups access to talent and aspiring co-founders a unique opportunity to become a business owner. To apply, click here.

By Megha Merani