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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

UAE legal Q&A: Employer has the right to deduct pay

A reader also asks about importing medication into the UAE by mail.
Q: My boss made a decision that any employee who takes unpaid leave on a Thursday will have the pay of both Friday and Saturday deducted from his salary, although these two days are official rest days. My employer claims that this is legal, in accordance with UAE labour law. Is that true?

A: As per article 70 of the labour law, Friday is a rest day and any employee who is required to work that day should be given another day off. Some companies in the private sector also give Saturday off to their employees in line with the weekends given to public sector employees, although they are not obliged to. Also, an employee may not be absent from work without permission. If someone is, they are not entitled to be paid for that day. If a weekend falls between the days of his absence from work, the whole period will be considered as days of absence, for which the employee will not receive any pay.

The labour law also does not define working hours in terms of a certain amount of pay for each day of the month; article 65 states that the working week should be 48 hours with a daily break hour.

For example, if an employer decides that the working week is Saturday to Thursday this means employees would work eight hours on each of those days, excluding the one-hour break. The majority of companies these days consider both Friday and Saturday as a weekend and make employees work for nine hours each day, from Sunday to Thursday. In light of all the above, and if we say the weekly rest days are Friday and Saturday, if the employee was absent on a Thursday, with prior permission of a one-day unpaid leave, then the employer would not have the right to deduct money.

However, if the employee was absent without permission for whatever reason, the employer would be entitled to deduct wages for that absent day (Thursday) as well as for Saturday as a fine, as set out in article 102 of the labour law.

Q: Can I import by mail medication from the UK that is difficult to get or not approved in the UAE? I suffer from continuous pain and only a dihydrocodeine-based medication works but this is difficult to get in the UAE. I also occasionally need pethidine for kidney pain but, again, this is not available in the UAE.

A: As an individual you cannot import any medication to the UAE. Federal Law no.7 of 1983 concerns medication and pharmacies and states that all medicines must be approved by the medication committee at the Ministry of Health and then registered with the ministry. It also allows only authorised entities to import drugs from abroad. I would suggest that you consult a doctor about replacement medicine to avoid any potential criminal proceedings against you.

Q: Who has the priority at painted pedestrian crossings - pedestrians or vehicles?

A: If there is a traffic signal at a crossing pedestrians should wait for the signal before crossing. If there is no signal, pedestrians have the right of way. It is the duty of the vehicle to halt so that pedestrians can cross safely.

* If you have a question for our lawyer, please email it to newsdesk@thenational.ae with the subject line 'Know the law'.