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Payroll Process in UAE for Businesses

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Payroll process in UAE
Shuraa Tax Consultant June 11, 2024

Payroll is an essential function for businesses around the world, including those in the UAE. It involves the calculation and distribution of employee salaries, taxes, and other benefits. Ensuring an accurate and timely payroll process in UAE is crucial for maintaining employee satisfaction and compliance with labor regulations.

The payroll process in the UAE holds even more significance due to the Wage Protection System (WPS) implemented by the government. The WPS is designed to protect the rights of employees by ensuring that their salaries are paid on time and in full. This system has streamlined the payroll process for businesses in the UAE, making it easier to track and monitor payments to employees.

Let’s understand deeper into the payroll process in the UAE, the importance of compliance with the WPS, and key considerations for businesses operating in UAE.

Key Elements of Payroll in the UAE

Payroll in the UAE refers to the system used by companies to pay their employees. It involves calculating and distributing salaries and benefits while adhering to UAE labor laws and regulations.

Here’s a breakdown of the key components:

  • Employee Gross Salary: The total amount paid to the employee before deductions.
  • Employee Deductions: These can include taxes (social security contributions for most employees), insurance premiums, and any other agreed-upon deductions.
  • Net Salary: The amount remaining after all deductions are subtracted from the gross salary.
  • Benefits: These can include health insurance, allowances (housing, transportation), and paid leave.

Legal Framework:

The UAE has a strict legal framework governing payroll, including:

  • UAE Labor Law: This law sets out the basic rights and obligations of employers and employees regarding salaries, benefits, working hours, overtime, and leave.
  • Wage Protection System (WPS): This government initiative ensures timely salary payments and mandates electronic salary transfers through the WPS system.

Employee Rights & Employer Obligations:

Employees have the right to:

  • Receive their salaries on time and in accordance with their employment contracts.
  • Be informed about all deductions from their salary.
  • Receive benefits as outlined in their contracts. 

Employers are obligated to:

  • Comply with the Wage Protection System (WPS) for timely salary payments.
  • Maintain accurate employee records and salary information files.
  • Withhold and remit social security contributions.
  • Provide mandated benefits as per the law and employment contracts. 

Wages Protection System (WPS)

The WPS is an electronic salary transfer system designed to safeguard employee rights in the UAE. WPS ensures timely and accurate salary payments to employees in the UAE. It minimizes disputes and protects workers from unfair practices like delayed wages or incorrect amounts.

All companies registered with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MOHRE) must use WPS for salary payments. Salaries must be paid through WPS according to the agreed-upon schedule in the employment contract. Employers must submit electronic Salary Information Files (SIF) to MOHRE for approval before transferring wages.

How to register for WPS in the UAE?

  1. Companies need to register with a WPS service provider (approved bank or financial institution).
  2. The service provider will guide you through the online registration process on the MOHRE website.
  3. Companies need to provide business and employee information.
  4. Once approved, companies can start using WPS for salary transfers.

The Step-by-Step Payroll Process in UAE

Managing payroll in the UAE involves following specific steps to ensure accurate and timely payments to your employees, while complying with local regulations.

1. Setting Up Your Payroll System

The first step is choosing how you’ll manage your payroll. Here are the main options:

In-House Payroll: This involves handling payroll calculations and submissions yourself using spreadsheets or accounting software. It’s suitable for smaller businesses with few employees but can be time-consuming and prone to errors.

Outsourced Payroll: Partnering with a professional payroll service provider takes the burden off your shoulders. They handle calculations, filings, and ensure compliance. This option is ideal for businesses with a larger workforce or complex payroll needs.

Payroll Software: Cloud-based payroll software offers a user-friendly interface for managing payroll in-house. It automates calculations, deductions, and WPS filings, reducing manual work and the risk of errors.

2. Employee Onboarding and Data Collection

During employee onboarding, gather accurate and complete information for payroll purposes. This typically includes:

  • Basic employee details (name, nationality, ID number)
  • Bank account information for salary transfers (important for WPS)
  • Contractual details (base salary, allowances, benefits)
  • Tax information (if applicable)
  • Emergency contact details

3. Calculating Employee Earnings

This step involves determining the total amount each employee gets paid. Here’s a breakdown:

Gross Salary: This is the base salary as agreed upon in the employment contract.

Overtime Pay: If employees work beyond the standard working hours (typically 48 hours per week), they are entitled to overtime pay, which is usually calculated at a higher rate (often 1.5 times the base rate).

Allowances: Many companies in the UAE offer allowances to cover employee expenses, such as housing, transportation, or communication. These allowances are added to the gross salary.

4. Understanding and Applying Deductions

Before finalizing the net pay, certain deductions need to be applied:

Mandatory Deductions:

  • Social Security: A small percentage of an employee’s salary is deducted for social security contributions.
  • Tax (if applicable): While there is no personal income tax in most of the UAE, some employees in specific industries or free zones may be subject to income tax.

Optional Deductions:

  • Employee contributions to health insurance plans (if offered)
  • Salary advances or loans provided to employees

5. Payslips and Salary Statements

Payslips are essential documents provided to employees, detailing their earnings and deductions for each pay period. A payslip typically includes:

  • Employee information (name, ID)
  • Gross salary, allowances, and overtime pay
  • Breakdown of deductions
  • Net salary (amount paid to the employee)

Salary statements might be more comprehensive, containing additional information like leave records and year-to-date earnings.

6. WPS Reporting and Salary Payment

The Wage Protection System (WPS) is a mandatory electronic system for paying salaries in the UAE. Here’s how it works:

  • WPS Registration: Register your company with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MOHRE).
  • WPS Salary Transfer File: Prepare a WPS file containing employee salary details for each pay cycle.
  • Salary Payment: Submit the WPS file and transfer salaries electronically to employees’ bank accounts linked to the WPS system.

7. Maintaining Payroll Records

Keeping accurate and up-to-date payroll records is crucial for audits and employee reference purposes. Maintain records such as: 

  • Employee attendance records
  • Timesheets (if applicable)
  • Payslips and salary statements
  • Payroll reports
  • Documentation for deductions

Some free zones in the UAE may have slightly different payroll regulations. Specific details and requirements might vary depending on your company size, industry, and location within the UAE.

We always recommended to consult with experts at Shuraa Tax who can provide you professional guidance or accounting services to ensure compliance with local regulations.

UAE Employment Law

Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021 is the primary legislation governing employment relationships in the private sector. It is a comprehensive set of regulations governing the relationship between employers and employees in the private sector. It outlines the rights and obligations of both parties to ensure fair and balanced working conditions.

Here are some key aspects of UAE employment law regarding leaves, working weeks, and minimum wage:


  • Annual Leave: Employees are entitled to at least 30 calendar days of paid annual leave per year. This leave can be accumulated for a maximum of two years.
  • Sick Leave: Employees are entitled to paid sick leave for a short period (typically 15 days) based on a medical certificate. Longer sick leave may require additional approvals.
  • Maternity Leave: Female employees are entitled to paid maternity leave for a minimum of 60 days (45 days full pay, 15 days half pay). Additional unpaid leave can be granted under certain circumstances.
  • Paternity Leave: Fathers are entitled to 5 days of paid paternity leave. 
  • Compassionate Leave: Employees may be granted paid leave for emergencies or the death of a close family member (duration typically depends on the company’s policy).
  • Other Leaves: UAE Labor Law also provides for unpaid leave for specific reasons like Hajj pilgrimage or national service.

Working Week:

  • The standard working week in the UAE is 48 hours, distributed over a maximum of six days.
  • Fridays are no longer mandatory rest days. Employers must provide at least one rest day per week, which can be any day of the week.
  • Maximum working hours per day are eight hours, with a possibility of overtime up to two hours per day, subject to regulations.

There is currently no federally mandated minimum wage in the UAE. However, some emirates have implemented their own minimum wage requirements. For example, Dubai has a minimum wage for specific sectors like cleaning and security.

Get Expert Assistance!

Managing payroll process in the UAE can be complicated, but it’s crucial to get it right. Key points to remember including understanding the local labour laws, accurately calculating wages and deductions, ensuring timely salary payments through the Wages Protection System (WPS), and keeping detailed records for compliance.

To make things easier and avoid mistakes, it’s always good to get professional help. At Shuraa Tax, our team of experts is ready to handle all your tax and accounting needs to make sure your business follows all the local rules & regulations.

Our tax consultants in Dubai can review your current finances and help plan your taxes and bookkeeping. Let Shuraa Tax take care of your business legalities, so you can focus on running your business. Get in touch today at +971508912062 or

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is there payroll tax in the UAE?

There is generally no personal income tax for employees in the UAE. However, UAE nationals are required to contribute to social security programs like the General Pension and Social Security Authority (GPSSA) or the Abu Dhabi Retirement Pensions and Benefits Fund (ADRPBF).

2. What is the Wage Protection System (WPS) and how does it work?

The WPS is a mandatory electronic system for paying salaries in the UAE. It ensures timely and secure salary transfers directly to employees’ bank accounts linked to the system. Businesses need to register with MOHRE and submit WPS salary transfer files for each pay cycle.

3. Is there a minimum wage requirement in the UAE?

There is currently no federally mandated minimum wage in the UAE. However, some emirates have implemented their own minimum wage requirements for specific sectors.

4. What documents do I need to keep for payroll records in the UAE?

Here are some essential documents to maintain for UAE payroll records:

  • Employee contracts
  • Timesheets (tracking attendance and overtime)
  • Payslips and salary statements
  • WPS submission records
  • Tax documents (if applicable)

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