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"I have worked in a company in Dubai for more than four years under an unlimited contract. I resigned from my job as I have got a new job with better salary and benefits in another company. In my labour contract, the notice period for resignation is mentioned as three months. I requested my employer to exempt me from the three-month notice period. However, my employer refused, and warned that he would request the labour ministry to impose a one-year ban on me if I refuse to serve the notice period. Then, I told him that he could deduct three months’ salary from my end-of-service gratuity if would relieve me immediately. He rejected the same. If I wait to complete the three-month notice period, I might lose the new job. My questions are: Is the worker legally obliged to serve the notice period? If the worker refuses to do so, is he going against the labour law? My employer says that even if I finish serving my notice period, I am supposed to work for another month until a new employee joins the company as I need to train him. Is this legally right?"

Answer: Article No. 118 of the Federal Labour Law No. 8 of 1980 states: “A contract shall continue to be valid throughout the period of notice referred to in the preceding Article and shall terminate on the expiry of the notice period. The worker shall be entitled, during the period of notice, to full pay, calculated based on his remuneration, and he shall be required to perform his works during that period if the employer so requests.”

As per the above article, serving the notice period is mandatory unless the employer waives it and allows the worker to leave the job within the said period.

Therefore, if the worker fails to work within the said period, he might lose his labour rights and the employer may apply to the Ministry of Labour to impose a one-year ban on the worker.

Finally, after completing the agreed notice period, the employee has the right to leave the job immediately and he is not obliged to work for any extra period, as demanded by the questioner’s employer.


Email resignation

"I had worked in a company in Dubai for more than three years under an unlimited contract. A month ago, I submitted my resignation, but the company rejected it. Therefore, I submitted my resignation again, this time by email, but my employer replied through email stating that the company was rejecting my resignation. My questions are: Will the resignation sent via email be acceptable before the competent court? Is the company, as per the labour law, entitled to reject the resignation? Will this past month’s work be considered as serving the notice period, which is mentioned in the employment contract as one month?"

Answer: As per the UAE labour law, the resignation of an employee is considered from the date of submission of the resignation letter to the employer. Under the UAE labour law, the consent of the employer is not required. Therefore, the employer’s rejection of the questioner’s resignation has no legal ground.

Submitting resignation through email is acceptable by law. Therefore, working in the past one month would be considered as serving the notice period. I would advise the questioner that in case no amicable solution is arrived at between him and the employer, he shall immediately file a complaint before the Ministry of Labour (Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation) in this regard so that he preserves his rights.


Limited contract

"I have worked in a company in Dubai for more than four years with a limited labour contract. My contract expired last month but my employer renewed the contract for another limited period but in a side letter attached to the contract, the employer has mentioned that my notice period will be three months and that I shall not work with a competitor company for two years if I decide to leave the company. The competition clause was not mentioned in my previous labour contract. My employer asked me to sign the attached letter, but I told him that it is not legal and is against the labour law. Both my employer and I have already signed the renewed labour contract where all terms and conditions are mentioned but my employer insists that I have to sign the attached letter as well. Does the employer have the right to force me to sign such a letter? My employer says I might be sacked if I do not sign it."

Answer: As per the UAE labour law, the employee is not obliged to sign such a paper which mentions the notice period as three months. This is against the labour law because the questioner has already signed a limited labour contract. As per the UAE Labour Law, the employee who has signed a limited labour contract is not obliged to serve any notice period. Finally, the employee is not obliged to sign a letter which says that he is not allowed to work with a competitor after leaving the present company.

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