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The youth of a nation are considered to be the future of the nation and therefore it is essential to guide them in the right directions and protect them from exploitation while working. Work according to the law1 is defined as human effort, whether intellectual, technical or physical, performed in exchange for a salary that can be permanent or temporary. The federal law no. 8 of 1980 on the regulation of labor relations (hereinafter referred to as ‘the law’) provides special provisions for the youth of the nation. Article 20 to article 26 of the law refers to the regulation of the employment conditions of a young person and this article evaluates and discusses the same.

First of all, it is important to understand who falls under the definition of the term ‘youth’. The term is not defined in this law and therefore the general meaning of the term should be investigated. In general terms, the term ‘youth’ means the phase of life that lies between childhood and adulthood. The age up to which a person is said to be in infancy is not mentioned, but article 86 of the Federal Law does not. 5 of 1985 relating to the United Arab Emirates State Civil Transactions Law, a person enters the age of discretion at the age of 7 and further article 85 of the same law states that a person in the UAE enters into the age of majority at 21 years of age. Therefore, considering the age of less than 7 years as childhood and the age of 21 years and above as adulthood, the age of a youth must be between 7 years and 21 years of age.

This article deals with the regulations governing the employment of young people. Article 20 of the law establishes a minimum age for a young person to be employed, it establishes that a young person of any gender must have reached a minimum of 15 years of age to be employed. Therefore, the provisions regulating the employment of young people are applicable to young people between 15 and 21 years of age. Employing a young person under the age of 15 in the state of the United Arab Emirates would be illegal. Therefore, section 21 of the law provides that the employer must take steps to confirm the age of the young person before employing him. The employer is supposed to keep a personnel file for the youth and is required to keep documents proving the youth’s age in it. The following documents must be kept in the youth’s personnel file:

1. Birth certificate or official extract thereof, or age estimation certificate issued by a competent doctor and legalized by the competent health authorities. (for proof and verification of the fact that the young person is of working age)

2. A health certificate fit for the required job issued by a competent and notarized physician.

3. A written consent from the youth’s guardian or administrator.

In addition, the law provides for the maintenance of a special register comprising essential information on young people in the workplace by the employer. Such record must contain information on the name and age of the youth, the full name of the youth’s guardian or trustee, place of residence, date of employment, and the job for which the youth is employed. The date of employment is to confirm that the youth was of working age when employed. The youth’s job role must be specified, as youth are only allowed to perform jobs that are considered safe for them. Article 24 of the law establishes that the employment of young people in conditions that are dangerous, exhausting or harmful to the health of young people is prohibited. Circumstances and environment that are considered dangerous and harmful to the health of young people are determined by a decision issued by the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs after consulting the competent authorities in this regard. Here only the physical health of the youth is taken into account, but with the effect of an amendment, the provision to safeguard the mind and mental health should also be added in the present law, since youth is an age in which the mind it prints very quickly and easily and therefore it is essential to keep it away from unethical, immoral and illegal activities.

In addition, the law stipulates the time during which a young person can work in terms of schedules and number of hours. Article 23 states that a young person can only be employed during the day, but this provision is limited to employment in industrial companies. Therefore, there is no restriction on the employment of young people at night in workplaces other than industrial enterprises. It also establishes that the meaning of the word “night” is a period of at least twelve consecutive hours, including the period from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Article 25 of the law limits the maximum working day to 6 hours per day for young people. These working hours would also include intervals for rest, meals or prayer. Intervals together must be for a minimum of one hour and can be more than that but never less than that. In addition, the interval or intervals shall be established such that the youth does not work more than four consecutive hours and the youth does not remain in the workplace for more than seven consecutive hours. In addition, the law has also listed provisions within itself against charging youth for overtime or retaining youth in the workplace after working hours or making youth work on rest days that include Fridays and holidays. .

Sometimes it is necessary for developmental and rehabilitative purposes to force the youth to work longer hours or to attend work on days off. For such cases, the law establishes a special provision for philanthropic and educational institutions, which may be exempt from the provisions mentioned above if the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs deems it appropriate. This is not a rule, but only a discretionary power of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs which will take into account all the necessary facts and circumstances before granting exemptions.

These provisions must be taken into account by employers, their representatives, guardians and trustees of youth. Therefore, article 34 of the law establishes that they are and will be partially responsible for the following of the provisions of the previous law.

1Federal law no. 8 of 1980 on the regulation of labor relations

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