'I've been made redundant because of Covid-19. What are my rights?'
The Dubai resident says he was given one month's pay as notice
I have been made redundant after working for my company for three years and three months. The redundancy letter said the company would pay me one month's pay as notice. No one talked to me directly before this happened. The excuse for redundancy is the current coronavirus outbreak. I asked for extended unpaid leave of up to five months [to factor in the crisis ] but they refused. In addition, in 2018 the company refused to give me a paternity leave. What are my legal rights for this redundancy, if any? DK, Dubai
A company can legally make an employee redundant if it is for genuine financial reasons. Notice must be given in accordance with the contract of employment, so provided this stated one month, which is the standard period for most people, then this is correct.
An employee can be paid in lieu of working if both parties agree. If redundancy is for a valid reason, no additional payment can be claimed although any days of annual leave that have accrued but not be taken must be paid as part of the final settlement together with any end-of-service gratuity in full. As DK is on a Dubai residency visa, medical insurance must continue for 30 days after visa cancellation, although this can be on a reduced level of cover.
A new resolution for companies registered by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation does state that businesses experiencing difficulty should take actions in the following order: implementing remote working, granting paid leave, granting unpaid leave, reducing salaries temporarily and reducing salaries permanently. However, these actions have to be agreed by both employer and employee.
If a company does offer unpaid leave for an extended period, it must be properly documented and visas and medical insurance must remain in place. Paternity leave is not part of UAE law and is only offered to UAE Government employees, with specific conditions, for a period of three days.
I left Dubai two years ago and am now living and studying in Pakistan. My visa has expired and when I exited the country I did not clear a phone bill of Dh800. Will I be able to secure a residence visa for the UAE in the future? And will there be a ban in place that prevents me from entering the country? WB, Pakistan
WB did not return from a holiday, so it is likely he was marked as a absconder because the employer would have taken action to recover their deposit. If an employee leaves without giving notice, such as in this case, the employer can apply for an absconding ban, which usually lasts one year.
This is 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.” In certain cases an individual can be blacklisted but WB will have to contact the General Directorate of Foreigner and Residency Affairs in Dubai (www.gdrfa.gov.ae), part of the Ministry of Immigration, to inquire about his own case. He can then find out if a ban has expired or if it is ongoing. The visa should have been cancelled at the time of the ban.
In respect of the outstanding telephone bill, WB must contact the telecom provider to find out what is outstanding and to see if they have registered a police case against him for non-payment of monies owed. If they have, he would be prevented from entering the UAE until such time as the debt is repaid. Leaving the UAE with any outstanding bills can lead to future problems and prevent re-entry into the country.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with more than 25 years’ experience. Contact her at email@example.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: April 4, 2020 04:11 PM