I live in Dubai. Last year, a court ruled in my favour with regard to a labour case I had filed against my employer. The judgement progressed to execution, but no payment has been made by my former employer to date. What shall I do in order to enforce the judgement and what measures can be taken to secure my right as per the UAE Labour Law?

In order to enforce/execute a court judgement, an employee must approach the Execution Court and apply for its enforcement. The Execution Court will then serve a notice on the employer seeking payment within 15 days from the date of serving the notice. It is common practice among employers to file objections and grievances to unnecessarily delay the payment since this would only be due once those applications had been considered by the courts.

As a means to execute a judgement regarding the payment of dues, the Execution Court has the power to take certain measures. These include issuing attachment orders on bank accounts, shares, stocks and bonds as well as on any real or tangible assets that the employer may have in the UAE. However, all of the above measures may take many months to finally conclude.

In a bid to address this reluctance to comply with court verdicts and ensure a speedy resolution of the issues, the Ministry of Labour (Ministry of Human Resource and Emiratisation) has introduced added sanctions against any UAE entity failing to pay the dues to an employee within the 15-day deadline.

Ministerial Resolution No. 797 of 2014 (‘the Resolution’), which has been in effect since October 1, 2014, empowers the ministry to suspend the business licence of an entity for non-compliance with the court order or delay in the payment of dues as stipulated in a verdict issued by the labour courts. This procedure will apply in case the execution judge issues a notice.

Moreover, the resolution can also have a wider application by not only imposing sanctions on the employer but also to a wider group of associated entities. Individual owners and partners of the defaulting entity may find that the other entities, of which they hold a vested interest, can also be subjected to sanctions. The ministry has announced that an employer must be given two advance warnings of the proposed suspension, although the method or manner of communication is not clear or routinely followed. The newly imposed sanction will remain in effect until the Execution Court receives payment of the amount mentioned in the judgement in full (inclusive of accrued interest, court fees etc) and the court can ask the ministry to extend the suspension.

Increasingly, more and more disgruntled employees are taking advantage of this resolution and are approaching the Execution Court to seek enforcement of judgements and following it up with filing an urgent application to suspend the employer’s licence. The Execution Court does not hesitate to suspend the business licence of a non-compliant employer and we have noted that licence suspension is becoming the norm and may be applied even without the requisite two advance warnings.

In addition to the threat of an attachment order and a visit by court bailiffs, the new resolution warns all UAE entities and employers about the importance of prompt payment of amounts stipulated in judgements within the 15-day deadline from the date of notification to ensure business operations are not brought to a sudden halt.

At the same time, Article 4 of Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 is very clear that the questioner should have the priority based on the verdict.

Midday break compliance

I work in a contracting company. In June last year, my company did not comply with the midday break regulation issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation for summer months. I would like to know from which month the midday break decision is applicable and till what time? Can my company force us to work during the break period?

Pursuant to the ministry’s decision issued in 2005 concerning the prohibition of work during midday, it shall be in force from June 15 to September 15 and from 12.30pm to 3pm. I would advise the questioner to report to the ministry in case the company forces them to work during this period. The companies will face penalties if they breach the decision.

— Questions answered by advocate Mohammad Ebrahim Al Shaiba of Al Shaiba Advocates and Legal Consultants.