x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

On Your Side: Work visas must be cancelled at the end of notice period

Our consumer advocate answers questions about the benefits owed to an employee whether they are terminated or resign, and whether a delinquent bank account could land a returning worker in trouble.

Our consumer advocate answers questions about the benefits owed to an employee whether they are terminated or resign, and whether a delinquent bank account could land a returning worker in trouble. Mike Young / The National
Our consumer advocate answers questions about the benefits owed to an employee whether they are terminated or resign, and whether a delinquent bank account could land a returning worker in trouble. Mike Young / The National

I was terminated from my job without any notice from my employer and it is still holding my visa cancellation. My visa is from a free-zone authority. I have already completed two years on my current visa and my employer has mentioned in the termination letter that it will pay my one month's salary for the notice period. I signed the receipt form because of pressure from the HR department, but also believing that I would be paid my settlement after the visa cancellation. Now, the company is refusing to cancel my visa, saying that I have to finish some pending tasks in the job that I was terminated from. - KP Dubai

An employee can only be made redundant without notice if they are still in their probationary period. In this case, it seems you are being given 30 days' notice in accordance with your contract. It is not uncommon for an employee to be asked not to come into the office during the notice period, unless they are required for specific tasks or to organise a handover of work. The visa will be cancelled after you have completed the notice period and your end-of-service gratuity should also be paid at that time.

 

I resigned from my company and my last working day was May 3, 2012. The company has not cancelled my visa yet because I am disputing the amount of my severance pay. My company says that due to my resignation, I am not entitled to repatriation fees. It is probably referring to a clause in Article 131 of the UAE Labour Law that states: "Where the reason for termination of the contract is attributable to the worker, his repatriation shall be at his own expense if he has means to pay." Does this cover dismissal or does it include resignation? I have no new employer, so will be returning home. Secondly, as part of Article 131, clause two states: "A worker who is provided with accommodation by his employer shall vacate it within 30 days from termination of his service." I requested to stay in my company accommodation for an additional three weeks because of my children's exams. The company has charged me for this time. My contract states that I must vacate my accommodation within two weeks of termination. Can you advise me on these issues? TW Al Ain

Your employer is incorrect. You are permitted to resign at any time when on an unlimited contract. The clause the company is quoting in the UAE Labour Law refers to employees who have committed a misdemeanour and are sacked. An employee does not lose out on all benefits by resigning and if you are returning to your home country, the employer is obliged to pay for your flight. This is a standard requirement of Article 131 of the UAE Labour Law, which clearly states: "Expenses for repatriation of an employee to his place of origin or any other place agreed upon by both parties shall be borne by the employer." This will apply unless the employee has signed a contract that states they have waived this right, or if the employee is taking up further employment in the UAE, in which case this becomes the responsibility of the new employer. Regarding the accommodation issue, Article 131 also states that an employee should vacate the accommodation provided by the employer within 30 days of the last day of service. This should supersede the more restrictive terms in the contract as the Labour Law will prevail. In this case, the company is within its rights to charge a market rent if TW remains in the property longer than a period of 30 days.

 

I worked in Dubai from 2007 to 2008. I had a bank account with Emirates Bank, which has now become Emirates NBD. I rang to find out the status of my account and have been told it is Dh1,278 overdrawn. The account has been made dormant. I am looking to return to Dubai to start a new job in July. Am I in any danger of being detained at the airport? I am sure I had a few dirhams left in the account, but I didn't close it because I thought I would return in the future. I tried to contact the bank, but it won't tell me anything further over the phone. ZS UK

I referred the query to Emirates NDB and it advised: "With reference to ZS's query, we are pleased to confirm that there is no legal action taken against the customer. Please note that the customer's account is domiciled at the Mall of the Emirates branch under the personal banking plus "savings" variant with a lien [negative balance] of Dh1,278 as of June 6, 2012. The negative balance is the result of account maintenance charges applied for non-maintenance of the minimum balance as stipulated by the terms and conditions of the customer's account. ZS may visit the branch upon returning to the UAE to complete the formalities for the account activation."

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com or onyourside@thenational.ae.