Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 May 2019

How long does an absconder have to wait before being allowed to return to the UAE?

Anyone on an employment visa that leaves the Emirates without cancelling their visa will be blacklisted.

I worked in the UAE from April 1, 2014 until February 7, 2015. I then took emergency leave for 10 days due to some health problems but after that I did not come back to continue my work. After six months my visa was cancelled automatically but I still have a problem with immigration. How can I fix this? I don’t have any debts in the UAE. SJ, India

If someone is working in the UAE on an employment visa and they leave and do not return as expected, the employer will register them as an absconder. This is particularly the case when someone was on a fixed-term contract and if an individual leaves service in this way they will have broken the terms of the contract of employment. To have the visa cancelled, the employer has to file an absconding case and then replace the employee or they may not get back the refundable bank guarantee that is paid when taking on the original employee. Most employers will register an absconder as there are costs to their business if they do not take this course of action.

When someone is legally marked as an absconder they are "blacklisted" and are banned from entering the UAE for at least one year in accordance with Article 128 of UAE Labour Law which states: “Should the non-national worker leave work without a valid cause prior to the end of the contract with definite term, he may not get another employment even with the permission of the employer for a year from the date of abandonment of the work. No employer may knowingly recruit the worker or retain in his service during such period.” As SJ left in 2015 I would have expected any ban to have expired by now. Assuming his visa was properly cancelled by the employer, as visas do not actually expire and must be formally cancelled, he should not be prevented from applying for a new visa or be rejected on doing so.

If he is being denied a new visa there is either something registered in the system that means he is not eligible to work in the UAE, or I have known of a few cases where people have identical names and they have been confused in the system. Either way, SJ will need to contact the applicable Ministry in the relevant emirate where he was employed to inquire as to why an application is not being approved. This newspaper cannot do this on behalf of readers.

I work for a private firm in Sharjah and have a limited contract. I have now finished my second contract so have worked two periods of two years and now want to leave. My company informed me there is no gratuity for me. I checked my labour contract and the period of contract is two years, but the company is telling me I have to work for five years to get my end of service gratuity. Is this correct by law? What can I do? CS, Sharjah

If someone is employed on a limited contract and decides not to renew the contract at the end of the fixed term, and has given notice to the employer of their intent, this is not considered to be a resignation, simply a non-renewal of the contract. This is an option that is available to both the employer and the employee. Note that such contracts are deemed to have terminated automatically unless it is renewed by both parties. Article 13 of the UAE Labour Law states: “The employment contract shall be terminated …should the specified term of the contract expire.” An employee is not obliged to renew, even if an employer wishes them to do so, and this is not considered to be a breaking of any contract terms or resignation in the usual sense.

The wording of the published law can be confusing in respect of the payment of an end of service gratuity for a person on a fixed contract so I hope that the employer in this case has misunderstood. If a person is employed on a fixed-term contract (also known as a limited contract) they must complete the duration of the term in order to be entitled to receive a gratuity payment. As CS has done just this he is entitled to payment of the gratuity in full - that is 21 days of basic salary for each year of service, per Article 132 of the UAE Labour Law. It is only where someone actually resigns with fewer than five years of service that the Gratuity is not payable.

If the employer still refuses to pay the end of service benefit, CS should immediately register a case with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (helpline number 800 665) and they will be able to intervene with the employer.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 20 years’ experience. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE.

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only.

Updated: July 1, 2017 08:15 PM