Khaleej Times is pleased to start a weekly column, every Monday, through which readers can ask questions related to any of the country's law, rules and regulations governing any field and speciality, business and operations. Interested readers may e-mail their questions to or post them to Khaleej Times P. O. Box 11243 with reference to "Ask the Law" column in both cases.

By Hamdan Al Harmi (Compiled by Eman Al Baik)

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Published: Sun 31 Jul 2005, 10:13 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 3:45 PM

The questions this week were answered by Hamdan Al Harmi, a national lawyer from Emirates Advocates.

Labour dues claim

I filed a case with the courts claiming my labour dues. The judge has turned down the case on grounds that I did not file a complaint with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Why can't I directly file a case with the court against my employer? Now, after my case was turned down by the judge, should I file a fresh complaint with the ministry? — A.K.

A complaint can be filed with the relevant office of the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry even after a case on the same subject has been turned down by the judge. It was turned down because the Labour Law stipulates that any complaint should be first investigated and a relevant order be issued by the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry prior to filing of a court case.

Article No. 6 of the Federal Labour Law No. 8 of 1980 and its amendment stipulates that disputes between workers and employers should first be heard by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs' Labour Relations Department. If an amicable settlement is not reached, the said department must, within two weeks from the date of submitting the complaint, refer the dispute to the concerned court accompanied by a summary of the case, the arguments of the two parties and the observations of the department.

Housing allowance

My labour contract stipulates that my employer will pay me a housing allowance of Dh36,000 per year. The company paid me the amount in the first year covering the period May, 2003, to May, 2004. But, from May 2004 to date, the company has not paid me the housing allowance.

I had to issue lease cheques for the last lease because the company delayed in paying the allowance which covers just part of the rent of my house. Despite several promises from the company for reimbursement, I have not been paid the housing allowance since May, 2004. I am leaving the company now. Am I entitled to claim the housing allowance? — B.S.

According to the Labour Law, an employee loses his dues if he fails to claim it within a year from the date of entitlement. This one year entitlement for claiming dues is aimed at maintaining public welfare.

The last para of Article No 6 of the Labour Law No. 8 of 1980 and its amendments stipulates: "In all cases, no claim of any entitlement due under the provisions of this law, shall be heard if brought to court after the lapse of one year from the date on which such entitlement became due, and no claim shall be admitted if the procedure stated in this Article are not adhered to." The complainant may ask the employer to solve the housing allowance dues amicably.

Passport held back

Does my employer have the right to withhold my passport and deprive me from travelling on vacation?

Keeping the passport of the worker is not allowed whatever be the relationship between the two parties. The Dubai Cassation Court has clearly stated that it is not permitted for the employer to keep the passport of the worker and to deprive him or her of the right of travelling and moving, whatever be the nature of relationship between the two parties.

The Cassation Court has elaborated that withholding a passport is a practice which reveals the employer's intention to prevent the worker from travelling. Cases of banning a worker from travelling is governed by Article No. 329 of the Civil Procedures Law which also stipulates that it is necessary to obtain a court order with regard to ban travel.

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