Pedestrians crowd sidewalks and crosswalks in the morning rush hour in Bur Dubai, Dubai. Image Credit: Megan Hirons Mahon/Gulf News

Dubai: People working in the UAE can still be banned for up to a year if they try to change jobs, a Ministry of Labour official has said.

The ban can be implemented even when an employee quits his or her job after two years of service.

It can be lifted, however, if the new employer offers the candidate a better position than the existing one and a salary that suits the person’s qualification, according to a scale set by the ministry, an official told Gulf News.

There are still questions about the circumstances in which an employment ban can be enforced when a resident decides to quit their job with a view to securing employment with a new company, but officials say there are exceptions which allow bans to be lifted.

The rules and regulations that stipulate when a ban can be imposed and enforced depend on a number of legal thresholds.

Traditionally, the Ministry of Labour can automatically impose a ban when an employer terminates an unlimited labour contract before completing one year of service.

As a general rule, a labour ban is still “imposed on all expatriate employees in the UAE who are working in the private sector when they want to change from one employer to another if they left the current employer without having completed a minimum of two years service,” a ministry of labour official said. “An employment ban, labour ban, work permit ban are used for the same thing which means one will not be allowed to perform any kind of work in the UAE for a certain period of time and these are imposed for six months, one year, or there could be life ban.”

The official said a one-year ban may be imposed at the request of a sponsor if a worker resigns before the completion of a limited period contract.

A permanent ban could also be given to absconding employees or those who violate the labour law.

But there are exceptions to the rules.

Residents can move to another company if the employee remains under the same UAE sponsor or if the employee has a higher level of education to fulfil a position that is needed within the country.

“Employees who have been slapped with a six-month labour ban for breaking their contracts before the expiry of two years can work for a new company, provided they hold at least a high school diploma and have been offered a good position and salary by the new company.”

He said employees working in the UAE who receive a six-month labour ban for breaking an employment contract within two years can have the ban lifted if the employee is changing job for the companies under the same sponsor.

If the employee has a NOC (No Objection Certificate) from the current sponsor then he or she will be able to move to another company under a different sponsor, the official said.

The minimum salary in a new position is Dh5,000 for high school diploma holders, Dh7,000 for post-secondary school diploma holders, and Dh12,000 for Bachelor degree holders.

No fee will be imposed for lifting the labour ban when these conditions are met, according to a senior administrator at the ministry.

“We are still imposing the six-month labour ban on employees who quit their jobs before completing two years of service, but the ban can be lifted if the new employer offers the candidate a higher position and a salary equal or above the salary set by the minister against his or her qualifications,” he said.

The ministry said that if the employee has violated the contract in any way, then irrespective of resignation or termination, a ban can be enforced. 

Women sponsored by family

A six-month ban imposed by the Ministry of Labour on people who fail to complete the period of employment stipulated under labour rules also applies to working women sponsored by their family members.

An official from the ministry said women seeking to change their jobs or leave work before completing the contractual obligation of two years with their employer would automatically attract the ban.

The official said the ban would take effect the moment a woman under the sponsorship of her husband or father cancels her labour card.

He said the mandatory six-month labour ban applies to both men and women, even if individuals are sponsored by family members, and is calculated from the date an employee’s labour card is cancelled at the Ministry of Labour.

“This is an administrative ban, meaning that a block is inserted into the ministry’s computer system preventing an application for labour approval being processed against [the] banned person’s name and passport number,” he said.

The ban cannot be lifted by paying a fine. 


Some workers have complained that the Ministry of Labour is still seeking approval from sponsors if they wish to change their jobs after two years.

Those affected point to the ministry’s earlier reforms to the labour law which did away with the need for a sponsor’s approval for employees who have been with their sponsors for two continuous years. The workers complained that they were being banned for one year for failing to secure such approval.

The labour rules, which were implemented in 2011 by the Ministry of Labour, allowed workers to switch jobs at the end of their employment contracts without the need for a no-objection certificate.

But a legal consultant at the Ministry of Labour clarified the rules and said expatriate workers would still receive a one-year ban if they failed to get their sponsor’s consent before changing jobs.

“No one is allowed to switch jobs even if they complete many years in their [current job], without the consent of their sponsor,” he said.

He also said the new law allows workers to change employment in cases such as when the company employing them has closed down and no longer exists.

“But those workers will be given one-year ban if they do not file a complaint at the Ministry in less than two months after the [closure] of their company.”