Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 6 August 2020

‘My employer wants me to resign and ban me from working elsewhere’

The Dubai resident's company is breaking the law and can be penalised

The UAE Ministerial Resolution from March of this year states that salary reductions should not be forced on employees without discussion. Pawan Singh / The National
The UAE Ministerial Resolution from March of this year states that salary reductions should not be forced on employees without discussion. Pawan Singh / The National

I work for a security company in Dubai and will finish my contract on August 13, 2020. Due to coronavirus, the company made us sign an agreement accepting a 50 per cent salary cut but they have only paid us 25 per cent. Now, the company wants us to resign but we paid a deposit of Dh4,000 which is refundable after finishing the two-year contract. The company says it will ban us working elsewhere using Article 127 of the Labour Law. What can my colleagues and I can do in this situation? FK, Dubai

The company is breaking the law and is in the wrong. The Ministerial Resolution from March of this year was clear in that salary reductions should not be forced on staff without discussion. If employees at FK's company agreed to receive 50 per cent of salary but are now receiving less, that is the first complaint that can be made to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE).

The second complaint pertains to pushing staff to resign. No one should ever be forced to do this, especially when on a fixed-term contract. The company can be penalised for doing this.

The third issue is the payment of a deposit. It is not legal for a company to request payment from any employee in this way and hold on to money.

Turning to the fourth issue, Article 127 of the UAE Labour Law states: “Should the work entrusted to the worker enable him to meet the clients of the employer or know the business secrets thereof, the employer may require from the worker not to compete with him or participate in any competing project upon the termination of the contract For the validity of such agreement …. and the agreement shall be limited, with regards to time, place and type of work, to the extent necessary for the protection of the legal interests of the employer.”

This is not relevant in this situation and is an empty, unfair threat. This clause is intended to prevent employees who are party to sensitive corporate information using this elsewhere, not to stop people from changing job, and it is not relevant to people who work as security guards. The employer cannot use this to apply a ban and would have to go to court to make a case against any person which, in this case, they would have no chance of winning.

Given all the rule breaches from this employer, FK has the law on his side and I urge him not to resign and for he and all his colleagues to register cases against the company. The MoHRE can be contacted directly on 800 60 or via the website www.mohre.gov.ae.

I worked in Dubai in 2007-2008. I never completed my employment contract because after going on a holiday, I could not return to the UAE due to unexpected personal problems. What is my current status is in the UAE? Will there be any cases filed against me? Will there be a problem if I want to go back to work or apply for work in the UAE? Can I obtain a visa or work permit in the UAE? RO, The Philippines

If someone goes on annual leave and does not return, they will be deemed to have absconded by leaving without permission and ending service properly. When someone is legally marked as an absconder, they are ‘blacklisted’ and banned from entering the UAE for at least one year.

This is in accordance with Article 128 of the 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 obtain 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 RO left the UAE about 12 years ago, any ban should have expired by now. Assuming his visa was properly cancelled by the employer, which is likely as they would have wanted to do this to get their deposit back, there should be nothing in the immigration system preventing him from entering the UAE for employment.

It is always wise to check the status before attempting to return to the UAE.

For someone who has a ban for absconding, it is best to contact the relevant Department of Immigration. For a Dubai resident, this is the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, www.gdrfad.gov.ae, and the contact page on the website provides options for making enquiries.

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

Updated: July 19, 2020 01:01 PM

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