Can I claim compensation for maternity leave if sacked from job in UAE?
It should be noted that an employer may put an employee on unpaid leave during the pandemic once he/she agrees.
Q1-I have been on unpaid leave for the past six months. It was initially for three months but was extended for another three (until September 30, 2020). The employer's decision was sudden. However, keeping in mind the Covid-19 situation, I had to accept it. I am seven-month pregnant and due for delivery on November 12. Although my employer is yet to confirm the further course of my job, I have been informed by my colleagues that my employment might be terminated. My colleagues, who were on a reduced salary since March, have started receiving their full salary now.
I would like to know if I can claim compensation from my employer for my maternity leave (three months' basic salary) in case they terminate my employment after September 30? What other options do I have in this scenario?
Pursuant to your queries, we assume that you are employed with an employer who is based in the mainland of UAE. Therefore, the provision of Federal Law No. (8) of 1980 regulating employment relations in the UAE (the 'Employment Law') and the provisions of Ministerial Resolution No. (279) of 2020 concerning the employment stability in establishments of the private sector during the application of precautionary measures to control novel coronavirus outbreak (the 'Ministerial Resolution No. 279 of 2020') are applicable.
It should be noted that an employer may put an employee on unpaid leave during the pandemic once he/she agrees. This is in accordance with Article 2 of the Ministerial Resolution No. 279 of 2020.
Based on the aforementioned provision of law, you agreed to your employer's decision to put you on unpaid leave during the pandemic.
However, if your employer terminates you from your employment, he may have to pay you housing allowance and other entitlements, except the basic salary mentioned in your original employment contract, until you find a new employment in the UAE or until you leave the UAE. This is in accordance with Article 3 of the Ministerial Resolution No. 279 of 2020.
As you are pregnant and expect to deliver your child soon, you may also be entitled for maternity leave with full pay if you have completed one year of continuous service with your employer. On the other hand, you are entitled for full pay of 45 days towards maternity leave but not basic salary of three months as mentioned in your query. This is in accordance with Article 30 of the Employment Law.
Based on the aforementioned provision of law, your employer may not be in a position to merge your other leaves, including your unpaid leaves, with the maternity leave. You are also entitled for gratuity for the period of employment with your employer, excluding the days of absence without pay, if you have completed one year of continuous service with your employer. This is in accordance with Article 132 of the Employment Law. Further, the current period of unpaid leave may not be added as period of employment with your employer while calculating your gratuity. Further, as per provisions of Article 79 of the Employment Law, you may be eligible for salary for the period of annual leave you have not availed during the period of your employment with your employer.
In the event your employer terminates you from employment and does not provide you with aforementioned benefits including maternity leave salary, then you may approach the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation and file a complaint against your employer for unlawful termination and for not paying your maternity leave salary and your end of service benefits.
Know the law
An employee is entitled for gratuity for the period of employment with his employer, excluding the days of absence without pay, if he has completed one year of continuous service with the employer.
Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom and India. Full details of his firm on: www.amalawyers.com. Readers may e-mail their questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.
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