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We compiled various UAE Labour Law sections and some of our common readers' questions to create this guide.

What is arbitrary dismissal?

Arbitrary dismissal is any form of dismissal or coerced resignation for unlawful or unproven reasons, or against the specific rules and regulations set down by the government.

According to Article 122 of the UAE Labour Law, the termination of the employment of the worker by the employer shall be deemed arbitrary should the cause of termination not be related to the work, in particular should the termination of the employment of the worker be made by reason of the filing by the latter of a serious complaint before the pertinent authorities or a valid claim against the employer.

It can occur in various forms, some of the most common have been detailed below:

Forced resignation

If an employer forces you to submit your resignation under threats of termination or citing performance related issues, damage to property or any other reason, it is considered arbitrary dismissal.

Termination on pretext of poor performance

The employer cannot terminate someone without adequate notice or initial actions regardless of their performance. There are certain disciplinary actions which can be taken lawfully if the employer genuinely feels that the employee is not performing well, only after the exhaustion of which he or she can initiate termination processes. 

Demotion or forced transfer

Demotion or forceful transfer with low pay is also considered as a form of arbitrary dismissal.

Termination on pretext of loss to company

Loss of any kind to employer should be reported to the Ministry of Labour or MOHRE with proof within 48 hours of knowledge of the incident that resulted in such loss. If the employer has not done this, a termination based on this reason is considered as arbitrary dismissal.

When can an employer terminate without notice?

Article 120 of the UAE Labour Law clearly lays out the following reasons for which termination without notice is deemed lawful;

a - Should the employee assume false identity or nationality, or submits false certificates or documents.

b - Should the employee be appointed under probation, and the dismissal occur during or at the end of the probation period.

c - Should the employee commit an error resulting in colossal material losses to the employer, provided that the Labour Department is notified of the incident within 48 hours of the knowledge of the occurrence thereof.

d - Should the employee violate the instructions related to the safety at work or in the work place, provided that such instructions be written and posted in a prominent location, and that he/she is notified thereof should he/she be illiterate.

e - Should the employee fail to perform his/her main duties in accordance with the employment contract, and fail to remedy such failure despite a written investigation on the matter and a warning that he/she will be dismissed in case of recidivism.

f - Should the employee divulge any secrets of the establishment where he/she works.

g - Should the employee be convicted in a final manner by the competent court in a crime of honour, honesty or public ethics.

h - Should the employee be found in a state of drunkenness or under the influence of a narcotic during work hours.

i - Should the employee assault the employer, responsible manager or co-worker during the course of work

j - Should the employee be absent without valid cause for more than twenty non-consecutive days in one year, or for more than seven consecutive days.

Disciplinary actions on employees permissible by law 

a - Warning.

b - Fine.

c - Suspension with reduced pay for a period not exceeding ten days.

d - Deprivation from or deferment of periodic bonus in establishments having a system for such bonuses.

e - Deprivation from promotion in establishments applying a system for such promotion.

f - Dismissal from work without prejudice to the end-of-service gratuity

g - Dismissal from work and deprivation from the total end of service gratuity or a part thereof. Such penalty shall not be inflicted for reasons other than the ones mentioned exclusively in Article 120 mentioned above.

In all of these cases, the employer has to have clear indications and proof of why the employee has been disciplined with written proof of notices, warning, fines and memos.

Claims against arbitrary dismissal

If you believe you have been dismissed illegally, you can file a complaint stating your side against the employer with the Ministry of Labour to be moved to a competent court in case of no amicable settlement. 

In this case, the employee can claim compensation in damages for an amount deemed correct by the court which does not exceed three months' pay. He or she can also claim gratuity, other end-of-service benefits or unpaid dues from the employer's side.