Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 August 2019

'Will my health insurance continue after visa cancellation?'

The Abu Dhabi resident wants to know whether his cover will expire immediately or be valid for longer

As per rules set by the Abu Dhabi Department of Health, it is standard practice that employment-linked medical insurance is cancelled at the same time as visa cancellation. Getty Images
As per rules set by the Abu Dhabi Department of Health, it is standard practice that employment-linked medical insurance is cancelled at the same time as visa cancellation. Getty Images

I have resigned from my company but I plan to stay in the UAE for 30 days after the cancellation of my employment visa. Is my current employer required to ensure I have health insurance coverage after cancellation of my visa while I am still in the UAE, or will my health insurance cover expire immediately upon visa cancellation, or will it continue for 30 days? SW, Abu Dhabi

The rules relating to medical insurance requirements vary between emirates. Medical insurance is only mandatory for Abu Dhabi and Dubai visa holders. SW has been employed on an Abu Dhabi visa and as such his employer is obliged to provide him and any dependents with appropriate medical insurance under the guidelines of the Abu Dhabi Department of Health.

According to the department's published guidance, “when the visa is cancelled, transferred or the member leaves the country, the health insurance plan will be cancelled accordingly”. It is standard practice that employment-linked medical insurance is cancelled at the same time as the cancellation of a visa. To clarify, SW’s employer can cancel his medical insurance as soon as the visa is cancelled.

The rules are slightly different for employees on a Dubai visa, stipulating that cover must continue for 30 days after visa cancellation and only for fewer days if the plan renewal falls inside this period.

I will have completed two years with my company in a few weeks. I am on a Dubai visa and have a limited-term contract with a role as an office clerk. I want to change my job and have been interviewing with other employers, but I still don’t have a new position to go to. If I get a new job after renewal of the visa with my current employer and then resign after a few months, is it possible for the company to ban me or ask me to pay for visa costs? If I get a new job, I am ready to pay the costs for visa renewal but I want to know what they are first. Can you guide me in my situation? SA, Dubai

There are a few issues here that need to be addressed. SA is on a fixed-term contract so he will be penalised if he renews this with the current employer and then resigns soon afterwards. Article 116 of UAE Labour Law states, “the worker shall be bound to compensate the employer for the loss incurred thereto by reason of the rescission of the contract, provided that the amount of compensation does not exceed the wage of half a month for the period of three months, or for the remaining period of the contract, whichever is shorter, unless otherwise stipulated in the contract”. This is a sum equivalent to 45 days’ pay so it is significant and can be applied even if resigning just a few weeks after renewal.

At no time should any company ever ask an employee to pay for the cost of his/her visa, Emirates ID or employment generally. This was covered in Ministerial Order 52 of 1989, Article 6 which makes it clear that all expenses incurred in taking on an employee must be borne by the employer and cannot be passed on. Visa costs can vary depending on the status and classification of the employer, but in this case is academic as the fees must be paid by the employer.

As SA has completed more than two years of service it is unlikely that he would get an employment ban but this will depend on specific factors and these include his level of education and the salary for the new role.

Article 4 of the Ministerial Order No 1.186 of 2010 set out various exemptions for bans. This stated that a ban would not apply “in the event that the employee is starting his new position at the first, second or third professional levels after fulfilling the conditions for joining any of these levels according to the rules in force at the Ministry, and provided that his new wage is not less than Dh12,000 at the first professional level, Dh7,000 at the second professional level and Dh5,000 at the third professional level". Skill level one refers to a bachelor's degree or higher, level 2 is largely for people with technical or professional diplomas, and level three refers to high school or higher secondary qualifications.

In addition, this order states that no ban need be applied if the first employer and the employee agree to part ways and the employee has been in service for two years or more.

In this scenario, if SA renews his contract and then resigns, he will be subject to a penalty for breaking the contract but is not liable for any visa costs and is unlikely to receive a labour ban.

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

Updated: April 8, 2019 02:18 PM