DUBAI — Employees who absent themselves from work for more than seven consecutive days will be listed as absconders with the Ministry of Labour, if their employers undertake that they are unaware of their whereabouts and there is no legal justification for their absence, according to a ministerial order issued yesterday.
Ministerial Order No. 721 of 2006 issued by the Minister of Labour Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi streamlines the procedures for absconding notifications.
It states that employers or firms wishing to report their workers absconding should first deposit a bank guarantee of Dh3,000 for each runaway employee whether the company is exempted from the general bank guarantee rule or not. If a company falls into the category of establishments who pay lumpsum bank guarantees for all their workers, the ministry will then accept the absconding notification without asking for the Dh3,000 additional bank guarantee for each absconding worker. The firms should also fill the designated absconding notification form, stamp it with its seal, and provide a proof that it has already paid any due fines, as well as the bank guarantee.
The order singled out cases in which the absconding notice shall not be registered like: If the labourer under question of the notice filed a labour complaint or a lawsuit; if he/she is absent for legitimate reasons, including sick or delivery leave or annual vacation, and in the period of seven consecutive days, the expiry of leave has not lapsed; if the firm knows the whereabouts of the absconding employee and the ministry’s staff believes that the employee can be summoned to the ministry and questioned before reporting him absconding; if the employee is absent for circumstances or emergency out of his control and fails to notify his employer whether at the end of the leave or while he is on duty; if the notice is malicious or fake; if the work relation has ended and a three-month period has not lapsed from the date of termination; and if the ministry’s staff was not convinced with the reasons for filing an absconding notification in which case he should raise the matter with the head of the department or the labour office.
Article 5 of the order stipulates that if an employee is caught in a situation in breach of conditions of the work permit and his firm failed to inform the Labour Ministry about his absence from work for over three months, the sponsorship of the employee shall be cancelled, he will be banned, and the firm will be compelled to pay the value of an air ticket to his home country and the due fine till the date of visa cancellation. The employer shall also be fined Dh10,000 for the delay in correcting the status of his labourer, and his establishment will be demoted to category C. If the firm knows about the place of the absconding labourer and has applied for registering the absconding notification after the three-month period or more from the date of his absconding, the application will be accepted but the company will have to pay the accumulated fines plus Dh10,000 — a violation fine — and the employee’s sponsorship will be cancelled with a one-year ban on working in the UAE.
The Ministry of Labour staff shall refer the absconding notice applications to the Labour Inspection Department for necessary measures against violators — be they employers or employees — if the number of reported absconding individuals at one time or separately is more than 25 per cent of the total workforce in the firm filing these notifications. The notifications shall be referred to the Labour Inspection Department also in cases where the firm is proved to have allowed the labourer to search for jobs or work illegally with other establishments and also if found that the company was bogus and had not given any actual work to the employee after issuing him a work permit.
According to the order, the absconding notice shall not be removed if the ministry found out that the firm was fake. In this case, the ministry will cancel the employee’s sponsorship with a life ban on working in the UAE and will fine Dh10,000 for delay in rectifying its status, besides suspending the firm and all the companies belonging to the same owner or partners. When canceling the absconding notice or apprehending the errant employee, the ministry shall slap him with a one-year ban on working in the country.
Article 12 of the order detailed the procedures in case of malicious and fake absconding notices. It stipulates that if a company misused the procedures of notifying the ministry about absconding employees to avoid fulfilling its obligations towards its staff and paying the due fees, the notification will be regarded as fictitious. If the notification on runaway employees is proved to be malicious or fictitious, the establishment will be compelled to pay Dh10,000 for delay in rectifying its status, and the ministry will suspend the transactions of the said establishment and all other firms belonging to the same owner.
Employers should ensure the accuracy and authenticity of the information officially furnished to the ministry. Failing to do so, the employer will be held responsible and bear the consequences. The order authorised directors of the departments concerned at the ministry’s offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and directors of labour offices across the country to cancel the absconding notifications in specific cases following the legal measures. The order will come into force 15 days from the date of issue.