Dubai: What are employees' options after arbitrary termination during probation?

A KT reader wants legal advice on what could be the next step if employees believe the termination was unreasonable

by

Ashish Mehta

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Published: Sun 4 Feb 2024, 8:37 AM

Last updated: Sun 4 Feb 2024, 10:25 PM

Question: I am on probation at a mainland company in Dubai. If I were to get fired, what would the rules around it be? If I believe the termination is arbitrary, would I have a case? What would the next steps be?

Answer: The provisions of Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulations of Employment Relations and Federal Decree-Law No. 20 of 2023 Amending Certain Provisions of Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Employment Relations are applicable in this case.

In the UAE, an employer may terminate an employee's employment during the probation period by serving 14 days of notice. This is per Article 9 (1) of the Employment Law, which states, “The employer may employ an employee on probation for a period not exceeding (6) six months from the service commencement date. The employer may terminate the employee during such period by giving the employee (14) fourteen days' prior written notice.”

However, the provisions of the Employment Law are silent on an employer terminating an employee during a probation period without a valid reason.

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Suppose an employee feels that an employer has terminated their employment during probation without a valid reason. In that case, an employee may file a complaint with the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation (MoHRE) for amicable settlement with an employer or pass an order in favour of an employee. Based on a complaint filed by an employee against an employer, the MoHRE will try to settle the dispute between an employer and an employee amicably. However, If there is no amicable settlement, the MoHRE will pass an order if the claim amount of an employee is less than Dh50,000. If an employee and employer are not satisfied by an order passed by the MoHRE for claims less than Dh50,000, one of the parties may approach the court, which has jurisdiction in the UAE, to file an employment case. This is per Article 1 of the Federal Decree Law No. 20 of 2023.

An employee who has been terminated during probation may claim compensation if the termination of his or her employment is arbitrary. However, the court may calculate the compensation based on the period of employment, nature of work, if the termination of employment has caused damage to an employee and based on several other facts as the court deems fit. This is per Article 47 of the Employment Law, which states:

“1. A dismissal of an employee by his employer shall be arbitrary if the employee submits a serious complaint to the Ministry or files an action proven to be valid against the employer.

“2. The employer shall pay the employee a fair compensation estimated by the competent court if it is found that the dismissal is arbitrary pursuant to paragraph (1) above. The amount of compensation shall be determined based on the type of work, the extent of harm sustained by the employee and the length of his service. In any case, the amount of compensation shall not exceed (3) three month's salary of the employee calculated based on the last salary received by him.

“3. The provisions of paragraph (2) above shall not prejudice the right of an employee to the pay in lieu of notice and severance pay due to him under the provisions hereof.”

Based on the aforementioned provisions of law, you may file a complaint with MoHRE if you feel your employment has been terminated by your employer without a valid reason (arbitrarily) while you are employed on probation period. However, as you are on probation, the chances of you being entitled to compensation on grounds of arbitrary termination may be minimal based on Article 47(2) of the Employment Law, as it is at the discretion of the MoHRE (if your claims are up to Dh50,000) and/or by a judge if you file an employment case before a court which has jurisdiction to hear your employment dispute with your 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: news@khaleejtimes.com or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.

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