Abu Dhabi: No employer is allowed to withhold any amount from an employee's salary or deduct visa fees or any other charges, according to a Labour Ministry official.
Obaid Rashid Al Zahmi, Assistant Undersecretary at the ministry, told Gulf News that visa charges should be paid only by the employer. "It's against the labour law to deduct money from the employee for any charges," he said.
The Labour Law, he said, states that no amount of money may be deducted from a worker's remuneration in respect of private claims except in recovery of advances paid to the worker in excess of his entitlements, contribution towards social security, insurance and welfare schemes, fines imposed for any offence and any debt payable in execution of a court ruling.
A Gulf News reader sent a complaint saying her employer was deducting Dh150 from her Dh900 salary. The 27-year-old, who works as a waitress in Abu Dhabi, said the manager made the policy without the consent of the employees.
She said the manager resorted to this step to ensure that no one leaves the company before their three-year contract period.
"It will serve as a payment to the company," she said. "The manager said if we finish our contract we will get back all the amount that was deducted. We didn't agree because there was no written agreement, but the manager said it was not necessary," she added.
"The company started to deduct money from November 2006. In our pay slip it is not stated that we have a deduction even though we are receiving only Dh750," she added.
As per the labour law, any employee who quits before the end of his/her limited contract, he/she will be penalised by a maximum of 45 days salary. At the same time, any employer who terminates a limited contract of an employee before its expiry will be penalised by three months' salary.
Al Zahmi said employees facing such cases should complain to the ministry provided they have proof that the employer is deducting money from them.
Al Zahmi, along with Hatem Al Junaibi, director of the dispute department at the ministry, received 28 complainants at the ministry's open day held yesterday.
Have your say
Do you know anybody who is suffering from unfair salary deductions? What is the reason given by his or her company? Did they try to seek recourse? Tell us at email@example.com or fill in the form below to send your comments.
My employer deducts the visa fee from my salary every month. The same goes for my colleagues but no one has the courage to report it.
This is a common practice in the private school where I used to work. The teachers could not raise their voice mainly because of lack of knowledge of the law and also for fear of losing their job.
There are so many companies doing this. Often there is a separate clause in the offer letter that says if you leave the company within 2 or 3 years you have to pay all the expenses. Salary deductions are also made where the company provides accommodation but the employee is made to pay a fixed amount for water and electricity which will be higher than the actual bill. The poor employees have no choice but to agree to that.
Everybody is aware of that law. But since workers need the job, they tend to accept what their employers are imposing. It's a "take it or leave it" thing. Eighty per cent of the workers in the service industry pay for their work visa. It is the prevailing practice among greedy employers here in UAE who also withhold the employees' passports until the end of their contracts.
What do you think the employer should do when he spends Dh8000 on an employee's visa and the employee resigns after the first quarter of the year or even earlier? How will a 45-day salary penalty compensate the employer's visa expenses, his time and effort?