I worked in a company for more than two years on an unlimited contract. Eight months ago, my company terminated my services saying there was a financial problem. It gave me the choice to search for a new job, or to work as a freelancer. I have been working as a freelancer for eight months now and am still on the company visa.
Last month, I asked the company to pay me my salary for two months plus my end-of-service dues for two years. It offered me an amount less than what I am entitled to. In case there is no amicable settlement with my company and I decide to file a complaint, how long will the process take before the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation?
In case there is no amicable settlement again, can I ask the ministry to forward my case to the labour court? Can the ministry force a worker to accept a settlement? Will the ministry grant me a temporary work permit to work in a new company while my case is under process? My employer says that I cannot file a labour complaint with the ministry since six months have elapsed since my termination. Is this true?
Anwer: Article 6 (amended) of the Federal Labour Law No 8 of 1980 states: “Without prejudice to the provisions concerning collective labour disputes stated in this law, if the employer, or the worker, or any beneficiary thereof raises a claim concerning any of the rights accruing to any of them according to the provisions of this law, he shall submit a request thereof to the concerned labour department. The department shall summon the two parties to the dispute and take whatever action it deems necessary to settle the dispute amicably. If an amicable settlement is not reached, the department must within two weeks from date of receiving the request, submit the dispute to the concerned court. The submission must be accompanied with a note including a summary of the dispute, the arguments of the two parties and the observation of the department.
“The court shall, within three days from the date of receiving the request, fix a sitting to consider the claim and notify the two parties. It may summon a representative of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation to explain the note. In all cases no claim of any entitlement due under the provisions of this law shall be heard if brought to court after the lapse of one year from the date on which such entitlement became due, and no claim shall be admitted if the procedure stated in this article are not adhered to.”
Therefore, this article determines two weeks for an amicable settlement without obliging any party to accept it. In case no settlement can be reached, the ministry will transfer the complaint to the competent court. When the case is in court, the employee can apply for a temporary work permit from the ministry.
Finally, the employee has the right to file a labour complaint with the ministry since the complaint is within one year of termination.
We have been working for more than two years in a company on a unlimited contract. Our contract states that the working hours per day is eight. Last month, the company informed us that we have to work one hour a day as overtime without extra payment because the company is facing a financial problem.
The company informed everyone and said that anyone objecting has to submit his resignation. The instruction was verbal, and not in writing. Do we have the right to object to the company’s order? Can the company terminate our contract if we do not follow the new order?
Answer: Article 65 of the Federal Labour Law states: “The maximum normal hours of work of adult workers shall be eight a day or 48 a week. The hours of work may be increased to nine hours a day in commercial establishments, hotels and cafes and of guard duties and any other operations where such increase is authorised by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. Daily work hours may be reduced in case of arduous or unhealthy operations by order of the ministry.
The normal hours of work shall be reduced by two during Ramadan.
The time spent by a worker in travelling between his home and place of work shall not be included in hours of work”.
Therefore, the employer has violated the above article. If the employer refuses to pay overtime hours, the questioners shall file a complaint before the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation in this regard. If the employer terminates the employment contract. He will be in breach of the employment contract. In this case, I advise the questioners not to submit their resignation as per the company’s order.
Questions answered by advocate Mohammad Ebrahim Al Shaiba of Al Shaiba Advocates and Legal Consultants.