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Help! I got fired as I got stranded in my home country

Ashish Mehta
Filed on June 7, 2020 | Last updated on June 7, 2020 at 07.48 am
Rule, UAE law, job, termination, dubai jobs, Covid-19 pandemic.

(Photo: Alamy)

Know the legal rights in the UAE.

Question: I received the letter of redundancy from my employer while I was on my annual vacation in my home country. I was supposed to return to the UAE on March 30 after my annual leave. However, I was not able to do so due to the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic. My employer did not pay my full leave salary as they told me that the company is facing financial problems because of the coronavirus crisis. Can my employer terminate me while I am in my home country on annual vacation? Can the employer cancel my residence visa while I am outside the UAE?

Answer:

We assume that you have received the letter of redundancy from your employer while you are in your home country after the completion of your annual vacation and we further assume that you are employed in a mainland company based in the UAE. It is also assumed that your employer is incorporated in the mainland of the UAE and therefore, the provisions of Federal Law No. (8) of 1980 regulating employment relations in the UAE (the 'Employment Law') shall be applicable.

In response to your first query, it may be noted that as per the provisions of the Employment Law, an employer may not terminate an employee while he is on annual leave. This is in accordance with Article 90 of the Employment Law, which states:
"Without prejudice to cases where the employer has the right to dismiss the employee without notice or gratuity as prescribed herein, the employer may not dismiss an employee or serve him with a notice of dismissal during his leave as is provided for in this section."

In furtherance, your employer is obligated to pay you the leave salary before you travel to your home country on annual vacation. This is in accordance with Article 80 of the Employment Law, which states:
"Remuneration due to an employee plus that of the approved leave under this law shall be paid in full by the employer to the employee before the latter's departure on annual leave."

However, taking into account that you received a letter of redundancy from your employer after your annual vacation ended and considering that you are currently outside the UAE due to which you are unable to resume work, it may be noted that your employer may be permitted to terminate your employment contract while you are outside the UAE. This is in accordance with Article 120 (j) of the Employment Law, which states:

"An employer may dismiss an employee without notice if the employee:

(j) absents from his work without a valid reason for more than 20 non-consecutive days or more than seven consecutive days."
Based on the aforementioned provisions, your employer may be permitted to terminate your employment contract. However, if you opine that the termination of your employment contract is arbitrary, you may approach the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiritisation (the Mohre) and thereafter, the court which has jurisdiction to hear the matter if necessary. This is in accordance with Article 122 of the Employment Law, which states:

"An employee's service shall be deemed to have been arbitrarily terminated by his employer if the reason for the termination is irrelevant to the work and more particularly, if the reason is that the employee has submitted a serious complaint to the competent authorities or has instituted legal proceedings against the employer that has proved to be valid."
Further, you may also claim compensation of up to three months' salary for arbitrary dismissal from your employment. This is in accordance with Article 123 of the Employment Law, which states:

"Article 123:
(a) Where an employee is arbitrarily dismissed, the competent court may order the employer to pay him compensation. The court shall assess such compensation with due regard to the nature of the work, the amount of prejudice he has sustained and his period of service, and after investigating the circumstances of the work. The amount of the compensation shall in no case exceed the employee's remuneration for three months calculated on the basis of the last remuneration he was entitled to.

(b) The provisions of the preceding paragraph shall not prejudice the employee's right to the gratuity he is entitled to and the termination notice allowance provided for in this law."

In response to the second part of your query, it may be noted that an employer may be able to cancel the work permit and residence visa of an employee while he is outside the country provided the employer has obtained a signed work permit cancellation document from its employee. An employee has to sign the work permit cancellation document and only based on that the Mohre cancels the work permit of an employee. Thereafter, based on the work permit cancellation, the employer is in a position to cancel the residence visa of its employee with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs. Therefore, in your case we assume that you have not signed the work permit cancellation document and since your stay outside the UAE is on legitimate grounds, your employer may not be in a position to cancel your work permit and your residence visa without your signed work permit cancellation document.

In furtherance, it may be pertinent to note that the government of UAE has confirmed that all the residence visas of the expatriates who are inside the country and outside the country which expired since March 1, 2020 are valid until December 31, 2020 and therefore, you may return to the UAE upon the commencement of regular inbound flights. In view of the foregoing, you may amicably reach a settlement with your employer related to your employment and if your employer disagrees with you, it is recommended that you file a complaint with the Mohre against your employer for the arbitrary termination of your employment while you were outside the UAE.

Know the law

Where an employee is arbitrarily dismissed, the competent court may order the employer to pay him compensation.

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: news@khaleejtimes.com  or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai


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