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Job offer letters to be legally binding in UAE

Staff Reporter/Abu Dhabi
Filed on September 30, 2015 | Last updated on September 30, 2015 at 06.32 am
Job offer letters to be legally binding in UAE

From January 2016, a new set of labour laws will be enforced in the country.

The UAE is all set to create a better, more secure work environment from the new year. There will be no more harassment and manipulation of terms by employers of blue-collar workers.

From January 2016, a new set of labour laws will be enforced in the country.

Issued by Saqr Ghobash Saeed Ghobash, Minister of Labour, the new laws pertain to employment contracts, ending job contracts and granting workers new labour permits so they can shift to a different company after the lapse of a contract with his/her previous company.

 Terms of sacking

The new ministerial orders contain a segment on the ending of a labour relationship between employer and employee, that is, when and how you can get sacked.

> When the limited period contract expires and is not renewed

> When the two parties agree to terminate the contract while it is still valid

> When the employee at his own discretion decides to terminate the contract upon being renewed, or under any other circumstance abiding by the legal procedures specified

> When the employee decides to end the relation single-handedly upon renewing the contract or under other circumstance abiding by the legal procedures specified

> When the employer or employee decides to terminate the contract without observing the specified legal measures, and without the other party being a reason for terminating the labour relationship;

> When the employer brings the labour relationship with the employee to an end due to the latter's commission of a violation mentioned in article No (120) of the labour law.

In the case of an open-ended employment contract (of unlimited duration) the labour relationship could be terminated in four cases:

> When the contract is terminated at the agreement of both parties: employee and employer.

> When one party is willing to end the labour relationship, a notice letter must be served to the other party. During this notice period, original terms of the employment contract still apply.

> When the employer or employee decides, single-handedly, to terminate the contract without sticking to the legal measure streamlining that, and without the other party being a reason for ending the relationship.

> The employer ends the contractual relationship with the employee when the latter commits a violation mentioned in article No (120) of the law governing labour relationship.

Offer letters now gain status as a legal employment contract. Employers won't be able to get away with empty promises to prospective employees in terms of pay, their job role, designation, hours of work, and other terms of employment. Everything will have to be clearly stated in the offer letter, and the terms will be legally binding.

As per the decision issued by the minister, employers will now have to provide foreign labourers with a letter of offer, which will contain a detailed description about the job, including rights and duties of each party - the employer and prospective employee - and the work conditions.

The employee will then review the offer letter, which is given to him/her in a language he/she can understand, and agree or disagree to its terms.

The decision stipulates that the employer must now attach offer letters along with the labour permit application so as to get it signed by both the employer and employee when the latter arrives in the country, and then be formally registered by the ministry.

As a result, the letter of offer, which will be regarded as a labour contract letter, cannot be replaced or modified unless both parties approve. The modification does not affect the workers' rights and will have to be approved by the ministry.

Good news for blue-collar workers

Happy with the new labour re-forms, chairman of the Emirates Human Rights Association (EHRA) Mohammed Salem bin Dwaian Al Kaabi has welcomed the new ministerial orders say-ing they preserve workers' rights.

Al Kaabi issued a statement saying "the new decisions by the Ministry of Labour had been one of the past demands of the EHRA, when we called for protecting labourers by releasing a bunch of laws and bind-ing labour contracts".

He said the decisions taken by the Ministry of Labour will have a positive impact on labourers in the country.

A common complaint by several workers has been the seizing of ATM cards by companies. The new ministerial orders aim to eliminate those issues.

Legal view

Meanwhile, Khaleej Times spoke to Ashish Mehta, founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates, about the new ministerial orders, what they mean, and how they will affect the UAE work-force.

The UAE has always led from the front, Mehta said, and been a trendsetter in the region.

"The new ministerial orders will minimise and eliminate misuse by employers filing absconding cases with mala fide intentions against the employees.

"With the implementation of the new ministerial orders, Mehta said, employers will not be able to exploit employees, as in most cases blue-collar employees, who are semi literate, do not understand the contract.

He gave five reasons why the new orders are a positive initia-tive: More transparency in employment contracts; rights and obligations of employees will be clearly defined in the new template of the employee's contract; will bring balance and standardise new employment contracts; will create a positive effect on the job market and enhance confidence; will give the right message to international communities that the UAE has a fair and transparent regulatory framework.

It's important to note that one important development is that em-ployees will now be free from ha-rassment by their employers. No more seizing of employee's ATM cards, and wrongful allegations against lower-designation employees, Mehta said.

"Using the new template will eliminate misuse by employers who file incorrect cases against employees and harass them.

reporters@khaleejtimes.com


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