Employees can't be forced to pay employment visa cost in UAE
Issuing threats to staff can land employer in jail.
Q-I was working for a free zone company based in the emirate of Dubai and tendered my resignation within three months of joining employment due to adverse working conditions. My employer has deducted Dh4,000 from my final settlement amount stating the said deductions are towards my employment visa fees. The deductions were made despite my providing them the Khaleej Times Legal View columns where it was mentioned employees are not required to pay their employment visa costs to the employer. My end of service settlement document mentioned the said employment visa cost and I have accepted the final settlement document. I want to know if I can challenge such claims against my employer.
Further, my previous employer is calling me and accusing that I am indulging in spreading negative feedback about the company. He is also threatening to put a ban on my visa.
Since you were employed in a free zone in the emirate of Dubai, the said free zone may have separate employment rules and regulations. However, majority of the free zones in the UAE apply Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 regulating employment relations in the UAE (the 'Employment Law of the UAE'). We assume that the free zone where you were employed applies the said employment law. An employer may not collect or deduct employment visa cost from the employee in the UAE. This is in accordance with Article 6(a) of the Ministerial Order (52) of 1989 regarding the rules and procedures to be adopted at the Employment Permits sections with respect to the recruitment of non-national employee for employment in the UAE, which states: "The employer or its legal representative shall sign the recruitment application form prepared by the Ministry for this purpose. Such form shall include an undertaking from the employer to the effect that he shall sponsor and be responsible for the recruited employee, the bearing of his recruitment expenses and his employment in accordance with the employment contract in a way not prejudicing the provision of the Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 referred to herein."
Further, your employer cannot impose visa ban (immigration ban) on you as you are not convicted by the UAE court for any criminal charges and the relationship between you and your employer is solely employer-employee relationship. However, your employer can request the Ministry of Human Resources & Emritisation to impose an employment ban on you for a minimum period of one year for not having completed six months of employment with your employer. In the event, your employer makes false allegations against you and threatens you over telephone, you may file a police complaint against your employer. This is in accordance with Article 353 of the Federal Law No. 3 of 1987 related to Penal Code, which states: "Whoever threatens by words, deeds or signs, in writing or verbally, or indirectly through another person, in cases other than those mentioned in the two preceding Articles, shall be punished by detention for a period not exceeding one year or by a fine not exceeding Dh10,000."
Further, threatening an individual in the UAE over telephone or any electronic media is a criminal offence under the cybercrimes law of the UAE. This is in accordance with Article 16 of the Federal Law No. 5 of 2012 on Combating Cyber Crimes, which states: "(An offender) Shall be punished by imprisonment for a period of two years at most and a fine not less than Dh250,000 and not in excess of Dh500,00 or either of these two penalties whoever uses a computer network or information technology means to extort or threaten another person to force him to engage in or prevent him from engaging in a certain act. The punishment shall be imprisonment up to 10 years if the subject of threat is to commit a felony or engage in matters against honour or morals."
Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom, Singapore, 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.