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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Can I stay in an apartment provided by my ex-employer for a longer period?

The Abu Dhabi resident wants to spend more time with friends after resigning

When someone is on a fixed term, limited, contract specific rules apply to both the employee and employer if either party wishes to end the contract early. Getty
When someone is on a fixed term, limited, contract specific rules apply to both the employee and employer if either party wishes to end the contract early. Getty

I have been with my company for 20 months and have a two-year fixed term contract. It is a private company of a good size. A few days ago, I was given a letter saying my job is terminated as they are closing the department and that they will pay me for one month. Am I entitled to anything more as compensation? MC, Dubai

When someone is on a fixed term, limited, contract specific rules apply to both the employee and employer if either party wishes to end the contract early. Per UAE Labour Law, Article 115, "should the employment contract be of a determined term… (the employer) shall be bound to compensate the worker for the damage incurred thereto, provided that the compensation amount does not exceed in any case the total wage due for the period of three months or for the remaining period of the contract, whichever is shorter, unless otherwise stipulated in the contract."

In this case therefore, MC is entitled to receive compensation equivalent to her wages for a period of three months. I suggest she reminds the employer of their obligations under the UAE law but if they do not comply she needs to register a case with her local labour office or directly with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, helpline number 800 665.

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I have been with my employer for three years but I plan to give notice to leave as I want to go back to The Philippines. My contract is unlimited and I have to give one month’s notice. I know my employer will cancel my visa but I can stay for longer before I have to leave the country. I want to spend some time with friends before I leave but I live in an apartment provided by my employer. Can I stay in that apartment for longer or do I have to leave after I give my notice? CD, Abu Dhabi

CD is correct in that she can stay in the UAE for up to 30 days after her visa has been cancelled without any issues. If accommodation is provided by an employer as part of the conditions of employment the amount of time that a person can stay in it is set out in UAE Labour Law. Article 131 states, "in the event where the employer provides the worker with accommodation, the worker shall vacate the accommodation within thirty days from the date of termination of the employment thereof." This means 30 days after the last day of service. This assumes that the employer has paid all dues such as final salary and End of Service Gratuity and if this is not paid in full the employer may have the right to remain in accommodation until such time as all monies due have been paid.

I joined a company in 2007 and the mutually agreed offer letter, signed by both parties, states a notice period of one month. Later on, the company merged with another bank and revised its notice period from one month to two months for a certain grade of employees.

I have resigned but I am being told my notice period is two months. On showing them our initial offer letter, I was told that since I was promoted from grade A to B in 2014, the new notice period would apply. Since the time I joined, I have not signed any other contact agreeing to the two-month notice period even after promotion. Am I in the right to ask for a one-month notice period? MN, Dubai

I understand that the company merger took place quite a few years ago and that MN has had continuous employment throughout this time. Whilst an employer cannot usually make changes to a contract of employment without the agreement of the employee, there are exemptions to this.

If it is set out in a staff handbook that there are different notice periods for different grades of staff, or it is common knowledge and the employee is advised on this upon promotion then the change of notice period would be valid.

As there was a company merger, Article 12 of UAE Labour Law will apply and this states, "should a change occur in the form of the establishment or the legal headquarters thereof, the employment contracts valid at the time of the change shall remain valid between the new employer and the workers of the establishment. The employment shall continue and the original and new employer shall be jointly liable for a period of six months for the execution of the obligations arising from the employment contracts during the period preceding the change. Upon the lapse of the said period, the new employer shall solely bear such liability." In this situation this means that the new terms of employment will apply and this cannot be challenged as continuing to work for, and being paid by the company, for several years will be deemed to be acceptance of the revised employment terms.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and Senior Partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 25 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.