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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

'My employee has not returned from holiday on time. Can I sack him?'

The employer says the staff member has still not showed up for work after four weeks off 

Dubai is home to some of the UAE's 42 air monitoring stations. In 2015, the country scored badly on international air quality tests but officials argued these did not take dust storms into account. Getty
Dubai is home to some of the UAE's 42 air monitoring stations. In 2015, the country scored badly on international air quality tests but officials argued these did not take dust storms into account. Getty

I run a small company with a mainland licence and need advice about one of my employees. He has been with me less than a year and recently went on holiday to his home country of Spain for two weeks. During his trip, he asked to extend his break, which I agreed to on the condition he did some work while he was there as I have suppliers nearby. He was supposed to have visited them and also replied to emails to clients with quotes, however, he did not do any of this and some clients have complained. I have told him I will pay him a month's notice, but he is basically fired for his behaviour. He is not responding to emails and has still not returned after four weeks off work. Now a friend of his, a lawyer in Spain, has got in touch to say the employee is taking legal action against me and is seeking compensation. What are my rights here and how much would I have to pay? As a small business I cannot afford a big legal case and am already putting in extra time to fix the problems caused by this employee. AW, Dubai

Given the information provided, AW has good grounds for dismissing the employee for misconduct. It is unacceptable not to return from annual leave and then fail to carry out the work agreed. Article 120 of UAE Labour Law states that: "The employer may dismiss the worker without prior notice in any of the following cases" and this list includes, "should he be absent without valid cause for more than 20 non-consecutive days in one year, or for more than seven consecutive days". AW is not obliged to pay salary for any notice period.

Not returning to the UAE to take up employment again would be deemed to be absconding and AW can register a case against the employee to this effect as well as immediately cancelling his visa. If a such a case is in the system the absconder can be detained on arrival back in the UAE. There will, in due course, be a court judgement and the employee can find themselves deported with an employment ban. No compensation is due to this employee and a lawyer in another country has no jurisdiction here.

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I've lost my UAE driving licence and don't have a residence visa. Is there a way to get my licence reissued? I am now in Pakistan but plan to secure another job in the UAE, perhaps next year. Can I get a new licence from here? SK, Pakistan

While a UAE driving licence does not automatically expire if someone is no longer resident, only a resident can obtain a replacement licence. This applies whether it is lost or needs to be renewed. A person must have a valid visa and Emirates Identity Card to go through either process, so SK will not be able to obtain a replacement driving licence until he has residency again.

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A Dubai company applied for a UAE work permit for me but it was rejected saying: "Rejected by Ministry of Interior". There was no specific reason stated and when the company contacted immigration, they said it was because I have one active UAE visa. This is incorrect as I have never applied for a visa before this. Can I apply again? BN, India

Only the Ministry can explain why a visa application has been rejected and even then, they are not obliged to so do, either to an individual or their potential sponsor. If a visa is rejected and the individual believes there is no reason it should be, such as in this case, there is nothing preventing an employer from reapplying although a different result is not guaranteed. This is different if the reason for rejection is given as ‘security reasons’ in which case a further application will not be considered.

If BKN has genuinely never had a UAE visa before it could be that someone with the same name is in the system with a current or uncancelled visa. If that is the case, then the potential employer needs to raise this with the Ministry at the time of any further application and ask them to cross reference passport numbers and date of birth. Other common reasons for visa rejection include incorrectly entered details, a criminal case in a home country where the countries liaise, or if the accompanying photos are not in the correct format or are blurred.

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