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Understanding Child Labor Laws in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is deeply committed to upholding children’s rights and ensuring their empowerment by providing access to essential facilities such as education and healthcare. In 2016, the UAE introduced new legislation, Federal Law No. 3 of 2016, formerly known as the UAE Child Rights Law but now commonly referred to as Wadeema’s Law. This law is designed to protect and support children’s rights, including access to housing, healthcare, and education, and safeguarding them from any form of maltreatment or neglect.

What does Wadeema’s Law entail?

Wadeema’s Law, also known as Federal Law No. 3 of 2016, focuses on children’s rights, and underscores the following key points:

1. All children, without any discrimination, must have suitable living conditions, access to healthcare, education, and equal opportunities in necessary societal facilities.

2. The legislation serves as a shield against negligence, exploitation, and physical or emotional abuse of children. It is also illegal to smoke in enclosed spaces where children are present, including both public and private vehicles. Violators will be subject to penalties as outlined by the law.

3. In cases of immediate danger, childcare professionals are authorized to remove children from their homes without parental consent and without requiring court approval.

4. In less severe situations, professionals may intervene by making regular visits to the child, providing social support, and mediating between the family and the child.

5. Individuals who endanger, abandon, neglect, leave alone, fail to register newborns, or engage in any of the aforementioned actions towards children may face imprisonment, fines, or both, as stipulated by the law. This statute applies to all minors below the age of 18.

Who falls under the definition of a child according to Wadeema’s Law?

A child, as per Wadeema’s Law, is defined as any person who is born alive and is under the age of 18. The term “custodian of the child” refers to the individual who has been granted legal custody or responsibility for the child.

Application of Wadeema’s Law

This legislation applies to both UAE citizens and the offspring of expatriates. It delineates the legal rights of minors in the UAE and is designed to shield children from birth through adolescence from various forms of abuse, including physical, verbal, and psychological abuse.

Safeguarding Children’s Rights

Article 3 of the law protects children against discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, or disability. The legislation also underscores the importance of making all decisions and actions concerning a child with the child’s safety and best interests as the primary consideration.

Per this legislation, certain violations may result in sentences of up to ten years in prison, encompassing a range of penalties for specific forms of child abuse.

The introduction of this new child rights legislation in the UAE reaffirms the nation’s enduring commitment to upholding children’s rights and underscores the country’s ongoing dedication to this cause.

Child Labor Regulations

By Article 14 of the legislation, the relevant authorities and associated organizations must:

1. Forbid the employment of individuals under the age of fifteen.
2. Prohibit any form of economic exploitation or work that may put children at risk, whether due to the nature of the work or the prevailing circumstances.

The regulations outlined in the Implementation Rules of the Law and the Labor Law will establish the guidelines and principles governing child labor in the United Arab Emirates.

Recruiting individuals who are at least 15 years old is permissible, provided that specific conditions are satisfied. These conditions include obtaining formal authorization from a guardian and acquiring birth and medical fitness certificates from authorized medical institutions.

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Child Labor Law Violations in the UAE

Article 38 of the Law in the UAE strictly prohibits the following actions:

1. Exploitation of children for begging.
2. Engaging children in illegal labor activities.
3. Forcing children into activities that are detrimental to their education, physical or mental health, or moral and mental integrity.

Penalties for Violating Child Labor Laws in the UAE

Article 68 of the Law addresses the consequences of violating Child Labor Laws in the UAE. It stipulates that anyone who contravenes the provisions of Article (14) or (38) will face the following penalties:

1. Imprisonment.
2. A fine, not less than AED (20,000) twenty thousand.
3. If the work endangers the life of a child under fifteen years of age or threatens their physical, mental, or moral integrity, it will be considered an aggravating circumstance.

You may also read Obtaining Child Custody – Tips for Child Custody Success


The UAE places a strong emphasis on safeguarding and upholding the rights of children. As one of the earliest Middle Eastern nations to ratify the United Nations Convention on Child Protection, the UAE has incorporated child protection provisions into various existing laws to ensure their effective enforcement. The aforementioned instances demonstrate that the new law reinforces existing legislation aimed at protecting children’s rights. This new legislation is welcomed as it underscores the UAE’s longstanding commitment to preserving children’s rights and reaffirms its dedication to this cause.

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