x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Employees acquitted of crime 'must be reinstated'

Workers in the UAE can be suspended when charged with a crime, the Abu Dhabi Labour Court has ruled.

ABU DHABI // A company can suspend an employee from work if they are charged with a crime but must reinstate them if the employee is found not guilty, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday.

The ruling was made in a case filed against Al Wazan Trading, an oil and gas company based in Abu Dhabi, which fired an expatriate employee in October 2008 after pressing criminal charges against him.

The company's lawsuit asked the Abu Dhabi Labour Court to exempt it from paying end-of-service compensation and to order the man to leave the apartment in Musaffah that the company rented for him.

The lawsuit also requested that the man be forced to pay for any damages incurred by the court proceedings.

Al Wazan Trading said the man broke unspecified company rules and that he had been charged with a crime.

Court documents released yesterday did not clarify the nature of the criminal charges. The company later withdrew the charges and the man was acquitted.

The worker then sued the company demanding four months' worth of salary, the length of time that he was suspended from work during Criminal Court proceedings.

He also demanded the company pay him leave allowance, weekend shifts, compensation for arbitrary sacking and an end-of-service settlement, which, with salary, added up to a total of Dh195,206.

He asked for reimbursement for Dh23,450 worth of receipts and Dh185,055 as commission for the projects he did for the company.

The Labour Court ruled in January the man should leave the apartment and hand it over to Al Wazan Trading, but rejected the rest of the company's demands.

The court also ruled the company should pay the man Dh56,951 in settlement in addition to an air ticket to his home country.

Both parties appealed, and the appeal court ruled in May the man should leave the apartment and ordered the company to pay him Dh106,231. The man then appealed at the Supreme Court.

He told the court that the lower courts did not grant him his full rights and the company was not ordered to compensate him for the time he was suspended from work, despite his acquittal.

The Supreme Court acknowledged the man's right to more compensation. Although employees can be suspended from work if they are charged with an offence, they should be returned to work and compensated if they are acquitted, the Supreme Court ruled.

The Supreme Court also ruled the company was obliged to provide accommodation for the man's family since the beginning of the contract but that the company only paid for one year.

The Supreme Court ordered a new trial.