Workplace harassment is a critical issue that affects employees’ well-being and can lead to a toxic work environment. The UAE’s labour laws play a crucial role in regulating employment relationships, ensuring employee well-being, and promoting a respectful, safe, and cooperative work environment.

This article discusses the question of whether yelling at co-workers can be considered ‘harassment’ in the UAE workplace and how the law addresses this issue.

The UAE’s labour laws, particularly Federal Decree-Law No. 33/2021, provide a comprehensive legal framework for employment relationships in the country. Article 13 of this law defines the obligations of employers to establish a safe and appropriate work environment and outlines the responsibilities of employers to ensure a respectful and safe work atmosphere.
 

Prohibition of Forced Labour:

Article 14(1) of UAE labour law mandates employers to provide a safe and appropriate work environment. The law prohibits employers from using any means that would force or threaten workers or compel them to work against their will.

Yelling at co-workers can be seen as a form of psychological violence that threatens or coerces them into working in a hostile environment, which is strictly prohibited by the law.

 

Sexual, Oral, Physical, and Psychological Harassment:

According to Article 14(2), the law explicitly prohibits various forms of harassment, including sexual, oral, physical, and psychological harassment. These forms of harassment may come from employers, superiors, colleagues, or anyone working with the affected employee.

 

Disciplinary Sanctions:

An employee who believes he is a victim of any form of workplace harassment, including verbal abuse or yelling, should document the incidents and report the behaviour to their employer or the relevant authorities and the MoHRE within (5) five working days from the date on which he can report. Article 45(2) of the labour law, grants the employee subjected to such forms of harassment the right to terminate his employment without notice.

Additionally, in cases where an employee or co-worker engages in yelling or verbal abuse towards others, employers may conduct internal investigations, as permitted by Article 44(7) of the Employment Law. If there is evidence of assault, violence, or harassment during work, an employer should initiate and impose disciplinary sanctions on the responsible employee, as outlined in Article 39 of the Employment Law, and with Article 24 of Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022. Disciplinary sanctions may include written notices (warnings), suspension from work, denial of increments, salary deductions, and even termination of employment, depending on the severity of the violation.

 

Individual Labour Disputes:

In cases where amicable settlement is not possible, Article 31 of Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022 of the law outlines a process for resolving labour disputes, which includes disputes related to harassment in the workplace. If an employee feels they are subjected to harassment, they can follow this process to seek resolution, and they have the right to claim two months’ wages if they continue to work throughout the validity of the labour dispute referred to the judiciary.

 

Conclusion

In the UAE, yelling at co-workers is unquestionably considered a form of harassment, particularly when it contributes to a hostile or unsafe work environment. Employees should be aware of their rights and the legal mechanisms in place to address workplace harassment, thereby ensuring that they can work in a respectful and safe environment.

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