It is important that employees in the UAE know their rights. Here are five things we learnt from Ask the Law this month.
Note: Original questions compiled by Bassam Za’Za, Gulf News Legal and Court Correspondent, and answered by advocate Mohammad Ebrahim Al Shaiba of Al Shaiba Advocates and Legal Consultants.
1. Annual leave not given at least once in two years
Question: I have been working in a company as a sales manager for three years. For the last two years, the company has not allowed me to take my annual leave. I need to go to my home country for an urgent matter now but the company has again rejected my application for the annual leave. They say in company’s interest, I have to wait until next year to get my annual leave or if I insist on taking it now and go, my service will be terminated. Does the employer, as per the UAE Labour Law, have the right to delay my annual leave? How my due leaves are calculated as per the Labour Law in case I continue working and my annual leave is again delayed?
Advice: Article 78 of the UAE Labour Law states: “Every worker shall be entitled to his basic wage and the housing allowance if applicable in respect of his days of annual leave where the circumstances of the work make it necessary for a worker to work during all or part of his annual leave and days of leave on which he works are not carried forward to the following year, the employer shall pay him his remuneration, plus a leave allowance in respect of the days worked at a rate equal to his basic wage”.
It shall be unlawful in any circumstances to employ a worker during his annual leave for more than once in two successive years. Finally, as per the above-mentioned article, the employer has the right to delay the employee’s annual leave all or part of it due to a company benefit.
2. Unpaid salary due to shift in ownership
Question: I worked in an establishment for more than five years. Three months ago, my employer sold the establishment. I have not received my salary since. A month ago, I resigned. When I claimed my late salaries from the new owner, he told me that the UAE Labour Law does not oblige him to pay any late salaries to an employee who signed a labour contract with the previous employer. He said that I should claim my rights from the previous employer, who has declined to make the payment. Who is liable to pay my late salaries plus other entitlements?
Advice: Article 126 of Federal Labour Law No 8 of 1980 states: “Where a change occurs in the form or legal status of the establishment, contracts of employment that are valid at the time of the change shall remain in force between the new employer and the workers of the establishment, and their service shall be deemed to be continuous both the original employer and the new employer shall be jointly liable for a period of six months for the discharge of any obligations resulting from contracts of employment during the period preceding the change; after the expiry of this period the new employer shall solely bear liability.”
3. Official holidays must be paid holidays
Question: The company where I work gives us the official holidays without pay. The company deducts from our salary in case we take official holidays such as New Year and others. What are the official holidays to be given to employees as per the UAE labour law? Is the employer legally obliged to give such holidays? Does the UAE labour law oblige the employer to pay for such holidays? Do we as an employee have the right as per the UAE labour law to file a complaint at the labour ministry in case the employer refuses to give such holidays or don’t pay for it. Please advise.
Advice: I would like to clarify to the questioner that the Federal Labour Law No 8 of 1980, article 74, states the following: “Each worker shall be entitled to a holiday with full pay on the following occasions:
A- New Year’s Day (Hijri): One day
B- New Year’s Day (Christian): one day
C- Eid Al Fitr: two days
D- Eid Al Adha: three days
E- Birthday of the Prophet: one day
F- Ascension of the Prophet: one day
G- National Day: one day
The employee is entitled to such paid holidays as per the law. Otherwise they have the right to make an official complaint to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation in case the employer refuses to give such holidays or does not pay the employee in case he allows them to take such a holiday.
4. Resignation does not require employer's consent
Question: I have been working in a company for more than four years under an unlimited contract. The company’s financial condition has not been good and it has not paid salaries regularly. I have not received my salary for the past four months. Just a week ago, I submitted my resignation to my company by email because the company refused to accept my resignation letter delivered by hand. However, I received a letter from the company stating that I was dismissed from the company as per Article 120 of the Labour Law because I have caused losses to the company. The company mentioned that it has proof for its claim and it asked me not to come to the company until discussing the subject with the management. Does the company have the right to do this after I resigned? Should it have accepted my resignation as per the UAE labour law? What action can I take against the company?
Advice: The action of the company against the questioner is malicious and against the Labour Law. The termination as under Article 120 of the Labour Law in this case is illegal, because the article’s paragraph C, which the company mentioned, requires that the company shall inform the Ministry of Labour within 48 hours from the date of the employer’s knowledge of the incident [causing loss to the company]. Therefore, the resignation of the questioner is valid even if the company did not approve of that because the Labour Law does not require the consent of the employer for resigning from a job. Therefore, I would advise the questioner to file a complaint against the employer immediately in the labour ministry so that the employer does not file an absconder notice against the questioner.
5. Labour accident compensation for workers
Question: My brother worked in a company for more than two years. A month ago, he died due to a work accident. What is our right as his family from his company as compensation for the death as per the UAE labour Law? How much are we supposed to get and how is it calculated as per the UAE labour law? Is there any difference between the Dubai labour law and the UAE labour Law in our case? Which one is applicable in our case because this company’s main office is in Abu Dhabi and the Dubai office where my brother worked is a branch? However, his visa was from the Dubai office.
Advice: The Federal Labour Law No 8 of 1980, Article 149, states the following: “Where a worker dies as a result of an employment accident or an occupational disease, the members of his family shall be entitled to compensation equal to his basic remuneration for 24 months, provided that the amount of compensation is not less than Dh18.000 or more than Dh35.000. The compensation shall be calculated on the basis of the last remuneration received by the worker before his death. The compensation shall be distributed among the deceased worker’s dependants in accordance with the provisions of schedule three attached to this law.
The “deceased worker’s family means such of the following persons as were wholly or principally dependant for their subsistence on the deceased worker’s income at the time of his death;
A - The widow or widower;
B - The children, namely, sons under 17 years of age, and also sons who are regularly enrolled in educational institutions and are under 24 years of age or who are mentally or physically incapacitated to earn a living. The term “sons” includes the sons of the husband or of the wife who were in the deceased worker’s care at the time of his death;
Unmarried daughters, which includes unmarried daughters of the husband or of the wife who were in the deceased worker’s care at the time of his death;
C - The parents;
D - The brothers and sisters, subject to the conditions prescribed for sons and daughters.
Finally, I would like to mention that the UAE law is applicable in all UAE courts.
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Gulf News is not responsible for any amendments made to the UAE Labour Law. All labour disputes must go through the Ministry of Labour.