Contract of employment. The labour board has set its sights on several aspects of Bridgewater’s employment contracts, including the confidentiality agreement. Image Credit: Supplied

A reader from Dubai asks: I work in a company under a free zone law. My questions are:

1. What is the legal time limit for pursuing and claiming “unpaid bonuses”?

2. Will labour law be applicable in my case if it is transferred to a labour court, since I am working under a free zone law and not the labour law?

Answer 1 — An employee or an employer can file a case in the court for employment-related matters within a period of one year in accordance with Article 6 of the Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 (the ‘Labour Law’) regulating Labour Relations in the UAE, which states: “Without prejudice to the provisions concerning collective labour disputes stated in this law, if the employer or the worker or any beneficiary thereof raised 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 labour department concerned.

"This department shall summon the two parties to the dispute and shall take whatever it deems necessary to settle the dispute amicably. If an amicable settlement has not been reached, the said department must refer the dispute to the competent court within a fortnight from the date of the application being submitted to it. The case so referred should be accompanied with a memo giving a summary of the dispute, evidence of both parties and the comments of the department.

“Within three days from the date of receipt of the application, the court will fix a hearing for the case, and a summon to this effect will be served upon both parties in the dispute. The court may request a representative to appear for the Department of Labour to explain the contents of the memo submitted by it. In all cases no claim for any rights due according to the provisions of this law will be heard after the lapse of one year from date of its maturity, neither will the action be heard if the procedures provided for in this article have not been complied with.

Finally, labour law is applicable for all employees working under the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation or under a free zone.

Can employer force staff to work after notice period?

Question 2 — I have worked in a real estate company for three years and three months under a contract for an unlimited period. One month ago, I submitted my resignation, and presently I am working on a notice period as per my labour contract, which is one month. My employer is saying I need to work another two months until I clear all the company dues with the clients. My questions are:

1. As per the UAE labour law, does the employer has the right to keep me working on a notice period until I clear all company dues from the client? I am not responsible for any financial matter. My job is only to bring clients into the company.

2. As per the UAE labour law, how do I calculate my end of service gratuity?

Answer 2 — I would like to clarify to the questioner that the Federal Labour Law No. 8 of 1980, article no. 137 states the following: “Where a worker who is bound by a contract of unlimited duration leaves the work of his own accord after continuous service of not less than one year and not more than three years, he shall be entitled to one-third of the severance pay provided for in the preceding article; where the continuous period of service exceeds three years but does not exceed five years, he shall be entitled to two-third of such severance pay; where the continuous period of service exceeds five years, he shall be entitled to the full severance pay’.

Finally, as per the UAE labour law, the employer is not entitled to hold the employee after he completed the notice period for the reason that he must collect the company dues from the client as long as the employee was not a personal guarantor to collect such dues.