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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Am I entitled to overtime pay when I work 16-hour days?

Abu Dhabi resident's contract states a working day of just 10 hours

Businesses and employees are preparing for additional complexities of managing costs with the introduction of VAT. Getty Images
Businesses and employees are preparing for additional complexities of managing costs with the introduction of VAT. Getty Images

I work 15-to-16 hours a day and I am not paid for my overtime. It was clearly stated in my contract of employment that I will work for 10 hours a day, but this is not happening. What can I do? M L, Abu Dhabi

AUAE Labour Law specifies the maximum number of hours a person should work, and M L is far exceeding this. Article 65 states: “The maximum number of ordinary working hours for adult workers shall be eight hours per day, or 48 hours per week. The number of hours may be increased to nine hours per day for people employed in trade, hotels, cafeterias, security and other jobs whose addition

may be made by virtue of a decision from the Minister of Labour.”

Additional hours may be worked but those are limited. Per Article 67: “Should the work circumstances require the carrying out by the worker of a work for more than the ordinary working hours, the additional period shall be deemed an overtime, for which the worker shall be paid a wage equivalent to the ordinary hourly wage with an addition of at least 25 per cent of the said wage.”

If the overtime takes place between 9pm and 4am, then the increase in salary is 50 per cent, per Article 68.

Readers may wish to note that overtime pay does not apply to employees in managerial positions.

The number of hours of overtime are strictly limited and as set out in Article 69, the “effective overtime working hours may not exceed two hours per day, unless such work is necessary for the prevention of the occurrence of a colossal loss, a serious accident or the removal or mitigation of the consequences thereof”.

Clearly, as M L’s overtime has been ongoing, this is not a result of any serious situation at work.

The hours that M L is being asked to work are significantly in excess of that permitted by law, and if the employer refuses to abide by the law, then M L needs to make a case with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) helpline number 800 665), his local labour office or the dispute resolution centre if employed in a free zone.

Being forced to work so many hours is detrimental to health, as well as illegal, and the authorities will be supportive.

________

Read more from Keren Bobker:

My wages are late and now my employer wants to pay by cheque - is that legal?

Should I accept a three-year Dubai job contract that penalises me if I resign early?

How long can I overstay on a UAE residence visa before I am fined?

________

I am a qualified chartered accountant. I was employed with a company on an unlimited contract for only two months. I resigned on October 15 but did not go into the office from October 12 although I have email communications with the company. Two days later, on October 17, the company had an absconding case filed on me with MoHRE. The company is also contemplating filing a case for recovering 45 days’ salary and setting a labour ban against me. Since the absconding case started almost immediately after my resignation, I could not go to the office anyway to serve any notice although my resignation email clearly states I will do a handover. Can the company impose a labour ban in this case? And since I am a qualified chartered accountant, with duly attested certificates, will the ministry accept a ban imposed on me? V S, Dubai

It is very clear in UAE Labour Law, and related subsequent decrees, that to leave employment the proper notice must be given by an employee and this is a minimum of 30 days’ notice, unless a contract of employment specifies a longer period.

The employee is still under contract until the end of the notice period per Article 118 of the Labour Law, which states: “The contract shall remain valid for the notice period… and shall be terminated with the expiry thereof. The worker shall be entitled to his complete wage for such period on the basis of the last paid wage. He must perform his job during said period should the employer so require.”

If an employee fails to turn up for work, whether or not notice has been given, and is not off work due to ill health with the employer’s knowledge, they can be reported as an absconder, although the action was moved very quickly in this case.

A person’s position and qualifications are irrelevant in so far as the notice requirements are concerned, and everyone who wishes to resign from their job is required to give proper notice.

Being an accountant does not exempt a person from this requirement. While someone with higher-level qualifications on an unlimited contract may resign in the first six months of employment, they can still become subject to a six-month employment ban if they do not give the proper notice or fail to turn up at work during said notice period.

Finally, the employer is not permitted to deduct a sum equivalent to 45 days’ salary in this case as V S is on an unlimited contract and such a penalty only applies to fixed-term contracts of employment.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with more than 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