Resigning under limited contract: Do I need to pay? - Expert advice
  Reading time 7

When navigating the employment landscape, it’s crucial to understand the types of contracts that govern professional relationships. At the core, the distinction between a limited and an unlimited contract hinges on the duration and terms of employment. Limited contracts have a fixed term with specific beginning and end dates, while unlimited contracts are open-ended, providing a more flexible arrangement without a predetermined termination date. This fundamental difference influences various aspects of the working contract, including termination rights, benefits, and legal implications, all of which are vital for both employers and employees to comprehend.

Key Features of Limited Contracts

Duration and Renewal Specifics

Limited contracts are set for a predetermined period, which could range from a few months to several years. They may be subject to renewal, but this is not automatic and requires a new agreement or a clause facilitating extension within the original contract.

Termination Conditions

Ending a limited contract is typically straightforward – it terminates automatically at the end of the agreed term. However, early termination by either party usually carries penalties or requires specific causes as outlined in the contract terms.

End-of-Service Benefits

Upon the completion of a limited contract, employees might be entitled to end-of-service benefits. These benefits can include a gratuity payment, which is often calculated based on the duration of employment and the last drawn salary.

Termination CriteriaLimited ContractUnlimited Contract
End of Contract TermAutomatically terminatesNot applicable
Early Termination by EmployerPenalties/cause requiredNotice period/compensation
Early Termination by EmployeePenalties/cause requiredNotice period/justification
End-of-Service BenefitsOften includedSubject to employment term
Can I Resign After 6 Months in Limited Contract UAE - Image depicting the query on employment laws in UAE.

Key Features of Unlimited Contracts

Flexibility and Continuity

The flexibility and continuity of an unlimited contract make it the more common choice for ongoing roles with no anticipated end date. Unlike limited contracts, unlimited ones can theoretically last indefinitely, until the employer or employee decides to end it. This aligns with the needs of businesses looking for long-term staff commitments and employees seeking stable employment.

Termination Clauses

In terms of termination clauses, unlimited contracts are terminated by either party giving the other the required notice, as stipulated by local labor laws. This period allows both employers and employees to manage the transition smoothly, unlike the fixed end dates in limited contracts that can sometimes result in abrupt changes without sufficient planning.

End-of-Service Gratuity

Lastly, end-of-service gratuity under unlimited contracts is generally awarded after the employee has completed at least one year of service. The severance is calculated based on the employee’s tenure and salary, incentivizing loyalty and long-term employment.

The legal ramifications for both types of contracts can be significantly different. In the context of the UAE, labor laws meticulously outline the rights and responsibilities associated with each contract type. For a limited contract, the resignation during probation period in limited contract may lead to penalties such as a ban on employment or fines, whereas in an unlimited contract, the terms might be more lenient, provided the notice period stipulations are followed.

Legal Implications of Limited vs. Unlimited Contracts

Employee Rights and Protections

Under both contract types, employees are entitled to fair treatment, non-discriminatory practices, and a safe working environment. However, when it comes to termination, employees on limited contracts might face stricter penalties for breaching the contract terms before the end date.

Employer Obligations

Employers are held to standards that protect workers’ rights. In unlimited contracts, employers must respect the agreed notice periods and justifications for termination to avoid legal consequences.

Legal Recourse for Breach of Contract

Should either party fail to fulfill their contractual obligations, the offended party has the right to seek legal recourse. This may result in compensation for damages incurred due to the breach. As the laws governing these agreements can be complex, legal counsel is often advised when dealing with such issues.

How to check limited and unlimited contract in UAE - a guide to understanding employment contracts in the United Arab Emirates.

Choosing the Right Contract for Your Situation

For Employers

  1. Consider a limited contract if the job is project-based or for a fixed period.
  2. An unlimited contract may be more suitable for a long-term position with the possibility of growth and promotion within the company.

For Employees

  1. A limited contract can provide security if assured of the job’s temporary nature and benefits thereof.
  2. An unlimited contract may provide more job stability and opportunities for long-term engagement with the employer.


The difference between limited and unlimited contract in UAE can have far-reaching implications for the working relationship between employers and employees. A clear understanding of each contract type is necessary to ensure both parties’ rights and expectations are met, and to prevent potential legal challenges. Whether a limited or unlimited contract is chosen, it’s important to comprehend every clause and seek clarity on anything ambiguous, preferably before signing.

Calculating 6 Months Probation Period in UAE: A Comprehensive Guide


1. What is the notice period for limited contract in UAE?

The notice period for a limited contract in the UAE is typically agreed upon within the contract; however, there is generally no notice period as these contracts expire at the end of the term unless otherwise stated.

2. Can I resign during the probation period in a limited contract?

Yes, an employee can resign during the probation period in a limited contract, but this may result in penalties like a labor ban or financial paybacks depending on the contract terms and local labor laws.

3. How are end-of-service benefits calculated for limited and unlimited contracts in the UAE?

End-of-service benefits in the UAE are calculated based on the type of contract, duration of service, and salary. For limited contracts, the benefits are usually a lump sum payable at the end of the contract term, and for unlimited contracts, it’s calculated based on the years of continuous service.

4. How to know if your contract is limited or unlimited in the UAE?

To determine if your contract is limited or unlimited in the UAE, it is important to check the term clause in the contract. Limited contracts specify a start and end date, whereas unlimited contracts provide terms for termination but not for the duration.

5. What legal actions can be taken if a party breaches a limited or unlimited contract?

The aggrieved party can seek legal recourse through the UAE labor courts. The course of action can include claiming compensation for damages or challenging unfair dismissal or penalties. Legal advice is recommended in these situations.

Related Post