Most countries around the world offer some level of protection to workers that are injured on the job.  These workers’ compensation regimes can look very different from what we are used to in the States. This week, we are going to take a quick look at the rights of workers who are injured in the United Arab Emirates. Almost all employment in the United Arab Emirates is subject to the Federal Labour Law, also known as Federal Law No. 8 of 1980. Employment within the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) is addressed by the Dubai International Financial Centre Employment Law, DIFC Law No. 2 of 2019. The DIFC is an independent jurisdiction under the UAE Constitution, with its own civil and commercial laws that are distinct from those of the wider UAE. The DIFC has its own courts and judges.

The Federal Labour Law addresses workers’ compensation in Chapter 8, entitled “Indemnity for Labour Accidents and Occupational Diseases.” Here are some of the interesting differences between workers’ compensation in the UAE as opposed to workers’ compensation in Illinois:

  • A work injury must be reported instantly to either the Police or the Labour Department. The police investigate the accident, and the law dictates that the police report must indicate whether the accident is related to work, and whether it was deliberate or a result of gross misconduct on the part of the employee. After the police investigation, copies of the report are sent to both the Labour Department and the employer. The Department can request either that the employer conduct an additional investigation, or the Department can decide to complete the investigation on their own. In Illinois, the accident must be reported within 45 days to the employer. In Illinois, the police are not called usually involved in the reporting of a work accident, and certainly are not called upon to render opinions as to whether the accident was work related or the result of gross misconduct on part of the injured worker.
  • If an injury is determined to be work related, or if the worker is deemed to have suffered from an occupational disease, then the employer is required to pay for the injured worker’s treatment at either a government or private hospital until such time as the injured worker has recovered. Treatment includes admission in hospitals or sanitariums, surgeries, imaging and lab fees, medicine, rehabilitation equipment, and artificial limbs or other apparatus provided to the injured worker. The employer is also required to pay the transport expenses associated with the employee’s medical treatment. In Illinois, transportation costs are not guaranteed.
  • Once treatment has concluded, the medical practitioner in charge of the injured worker’s treatment must complete a report detailing the injury, the cause of the injury, the date of the accident, whether the accident is work related, the dates of treatment from beginning to end, whether the worker has sustained permanent infirmity along with the degree of disability (if any) and whether that disability is total or partial. The doctor must also address whether the employee is able to perform his job duties in light of the injury. In Illinois, there is no requirement that a treating physician complete any reports detailing the injury, causation, etc. In Illinois, a treating physician is often called upon by the injured worker’s attorney to prepare a narrative report that addresses these issues. The employer almost always hires a physician to address these questions in the form of a Section 12 exam, which is usually followed by a written report. Whenever a settlement contract is submitted for approval in Illinois, it is supposed to be accompanied by medical records that allow the Arbitrator or Commission to determine the nature, extent, and probable duration of the disability resulting from the alleged accident.
  • If there is a dispute in connection with the extent of disability, fitness for work, or any other matters related to the injury or treatment, the case must be referred to the Minister of Health via the Labour Department. A medical board comprised of three government physicians shall be formed by the Ministry each time such a dispute is referred. This board will decide the extent of the employee’s physical fitness for service, level of disability, or any other disputed matter. The Board is allowed to consult with experts when deciding these disputes. The decision of the board is final, and enforced by the Labour Department. In Illinois, disputes are handled by an Arbitrator. Both parties can be represented and are allowed to present arguments in support of their claims. If one or both of the parties is not satisfied with an Arbitrator’s decision, they have the right to a review by the Commission followed by judicial review.
  • Partial disability is payable in accordance with a schedule. For example, the loss of one foot from the ankle or below is considered to be a 20% disability. The loss of a right arm from the elbow or below is equal to a 60% disability. Illinois also has a schedule of injuries.
  • The amount of indemnity due to an worker in the event of a permanent total disability is the same as the amount due in the event of a worker’s death. That amount is equivalent to the basic pay of the worker for a period of 24 months, provided that the amount of indemnity shall not be less than eighteen thousand Dirhams and not more than thirty five thousand Dirhams. The amount is calculated based on the last pay earned by the employee prior to the onset of his disability. In Illinois, a worker that is permanently disabled as the result of a work injury is entitled to a weekly check for the rest of his or her lift, in addition to payments from the Rate Adjustment Fund to address cost of living increases.

If you were hired in Illinois, and are injured while traveling abroad for your employer, you have the right to Illinois Workers’ Compensation benefits. Any injury suffered by a traveling employee that was reasonably foreseeable by the employer should be found compensable. If you are a government contractor or subcontractor injured overseas, you should be entitled to benefits under the Defense Base Act. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your injury, if you are injured while working abroad and have questions about your rights, contact me anytime for a free consultation.