You can accept new job while fighting against ex-boss
The employee can apply for the issuance of a temporary work permit, which will allow him to work with the prospective employer for a period of six months pending the litigation.
I have been working in the UAE since August 2000. Before joining an international healthcare company in Dubai, I worked in three companies and have an excellent track record.
I joined the Dubai-based company in January this year on a visa sponsored by the company's Abu Dhabi branch. Since my visa got stamped in Abu Dhabi, my family members and I are eligible to get health insurance, which we didn't.
I repeatedly asked my company about the insurance, but did not get any response. The company terminated my service in March without specifying a reason.
I don't have a job till date and my company has not paid me anything since March. I have become a credit card defaulter too, since my bank has frozen my account due to an existing loan.
I have filed a case against the company in a labour court. What else are the legal options I can pursue?
Pursuant to your question, since the matter of dispute is being adjudicated upon by the competent court of jurisdiction, it may be advisable on your part to follow up on the case in the court. The matter being sub judice at present, we shall not make any further suggestions on the same.
Further, if during the course of the litigation, you get any offer of employment from a different employer, you may apply for the issuance of a temporary work permit, which will allow you to work with your prospective employer for a period of six months pending the litigation.
Additionally, you may also consider negotiating with your bankers so as to seek some relief with respect to the payment of outstanding dues.
What to do if you can't rejoin work after leave
I have been working in Abu Dhabi since December 2013. I took an annual leave last month to go to India. My leave ended on November 15. However, I will not be able to come to Abu Dhabi due to some pressing personal problems at home. I have asked my employer to cancel my visa, but they are asking to me to come back to Abu Dhabi. My visa will expire on January 20, 2016. My Emirates ID and labour card are with the company. I am worried that the company will issue a lifetime labour ban on me while cancelling my visa. If so, what can I do to avoid the ban?
Pursuant to your question, it may be noted that during cancellation of an employment visa, normally the employer cannot deliberately seek for imposition of a lifetime employment ban on the employee, unless:
> The employee has absconded and the employer has no information of the employee's whereabouts; or
> The employee has committed an offence during his course of work and sanctions get imposed on issuance of an employment visa to him.
In view of this, a reference may be made to the provisions of 'Ministerial Order No. 721 of 2006 - On Escape Report Procedures'. An escape report may be filed by the employer if the employee stopped working for more than seven consecutive days and where the employer does not have any information regarding his whereabouts. This is in accordance with the first article which states as follows:
"An escape report is applied on the case of the worker who has stopped working for more than seven consecutive days if the employer pledged that he does not know his whereabouts or has a legitimate reason for his absence in accordance with the provisions of this Ministerial Resolution."
In this case, however, you are on your annual leave and you have maintained communication with your employer. Thus, an escape report may not be sustained against you, which implies that a life ban on employment also may not be imposed on you.
For good order, however, it is advisable for you to come back to the UAE for formal cancellation of your employment visa. In the unfortunate event of there being a dispute between you and your employer, you may contact the Ministry of Labour.
No labour ban if you are an accountant
I joined a car rental company in May this year as an accountant. There was a probation period of six months on my two-year contract. I am a part qualified chartered accountant (ACCA). I am considering changing my job after one year. I have heard that the company deducts 45 days' salary and has the right to issue a one-year ban if I don't complete my two-year contract. Is there any way to avoid the ban and salary deduction?
It is presumed that your employment is subject to the provisions of Federal Law No 8 of 1980 on the Regulation of Labour Relations (the "Labour Law").
Pursuant to your question, it may be noted that should you choose to leave your employment before the expiry of two years of continuous service with your employer, you shall be liable to compensate your employe. The amount of compensation shall not be more than 45 days' worth of your gross monthly salary. This is in accordance with the provisions of Article 116 of the Labour Law which states:
"Where a contract is revoked by the worker for reasons other than those specified in article (121), he shall be required to compensate the employer for any prejudice the latter sustains as a result, provided that the amount of compensation shall not exceed half the worker's remuneration for three months or the residual period of the contract whichever is shorter unless the contract contains a provision to the contrary."
Further, your employer shall also reserve the right to seek the imposition of a labour ban on you, following which, a new employment visa may not be issued to you for a minimum period of six months which may extend for up to a year.
In view of the foregoing, the provision pertaining to compensation is a right reserved by your employer. And your employer may choose to waive such right if it may so desire. Otherwise, if you and your employer mutually agree upon termination of the employment contract, you may not be required to compensate your employer.
Notwithstanding the above, it may, however, be noted that you may avoid the imposition of an employment ban if you are offered a salary which satisfies the minimum prescribed salary limits stated in this regard corresponding to one's educational qualifications. This is in accordance with the provisions of Article 4 of Ministerial Order No 1186 of 2010, which states:
"As an exception to the provision of Item No. 2 of Article 2 of this Resolution, the Ministry may issue a work permit to an employee without requiring the two-year period in the following cases:
a) In the event that the employee is starting his new position in the first, second or third professional levels after fulfilling the conditions for joining any of these levels according to the rules in force at the Ministry, and provided that his new wage is not less than Dh12,000 at the first professional level, Dh7,000 at the second professional level and Dh5,000 at the third professional level."
In view of your educational qualifications, you fall into the first professional level, and hence you must be offered a minimum salary of Dh12,000 in your subsequent employment to avoid getting an employment ban.
Further, it may be noted that certain professionals are exempted from imposition of a labour ban if they wish to change employment from one employer to the other. This is in accordance with Article 2 of the Ministerial Order No. 13 of 1991 on "The organisation of the transfer of sponsorships of non-national labours the rules governing the same", which states:
"Non-national labourers may be allowed to transfer one job to another and hence transfer of their sponsorship if they fall under the following categories:
(b) Doctors, pharmacists and male and female nurses
(c) Agricultural guides
(d) Qualified accountants and account auditors
(e) Qualified administrative officials
(f) Technicians operating on electronic equipment and laboratories
(g) Drivers who are licensed to drive heavy vehicles and buses."
Among others in the list of the professionals, qualified accountants and account auditors are also included. In view of this, you may contact the Ministry of Labour to clarify if your ACCA credentials comply the requirements of being a qualified accountant/account auditor as stated hereinabove.
Apart from this, it may also be noted that labour bans issued by the ministry are usually not effective in the free zones of UAE. In the event a labour ban gets imposed on you, you may still get an employment visa sponsored by any of the free zones.
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: email@example.com or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.
Know the Law
If you leave your employment before the expiry of two years of continuous service with your employer, the employer has the right to seek the imposition of a labour ban on you. If imposed, a new employment visa may not be issued to you for a minimum period of six months, which may extend for up to a year.