Despite having clear guidelines on employee rights in the UAE, it is usual for residents to be forced to accept less than what they're owed in case of resignation or termination.
From conditions of notice periods to arbitrary dismissals, there are laws protecting both employee and employer interests. These differ based on your period of employment and/or type of contract (limited period - should be renewed for continued employment, or unlimited - need not be renewed as there is no limit on time period of employment).
End of contract
When you resign, your employer's acceptance or rejection of your resignation is not essential legally. Even if the resignation was submitted by email, it is considered accepted from the date of submission. Therefore, your contractual notice period (up to a maximum of three months) starts from this date.
If you're on a limited contract, however, resignation is a violation of your contract. You can only leave the job with consent of your employer or after your contract period.
Your dues and receivables differ based on whether you are terminated on account of redundancy (cost-cutting) or if you're terminated in what is considered arbitrary dismissal (wrongful termination).
In arbitrary dismissal, employers are liable to compensate the employee for wrongful termination along with gratuity and other dues. In redundancy, there is no such compensation other than gratuity pay and/or notice period compensation.
Your rights and responsibilities
You have to serve notice period when resigning, and this will usually between one month and three months based on your contract. It cannot be more than three months as per law, and your employer cannot force you to work longer than that.
If you're on a limited period contract, there is no specified notice period. Resignation is not allowed during the contract period as it violates the terms. If you need to resign urgently, talk it out with your employer.
Your notice period is counted from the day of resignation or termination. In case of termination, the employer might ask you to work during the notice period or pay you the salary for the period before letting you go.
According to Article 131, your employer is not obligated to pay your air fare to your home country unless it is specified in the labour contract. If it is mentioned, the firm is obligated to all fares as specified by contract.
In this case (contractual obligation), however, if the employee enters into the service of another sponsor or employer after, then the latter becomes responsible for air fare from the point of recruitment. If the termination is by fault of the employee, the employer is not legally liable to pay for air fare if the employee has the means to pay - even if it is mentioned in his or her labour contract.
This law is specific to the cost of a travelling ticket for the employee. Other costs such as shipping or family repatriation are also legally payable if agreed upon in the labour contract or as per contractual company policies.
You, as an employee, are never required to reimburse your employer for visa costs at any time. Visa costs and sponsorship costs are the sole responsibility of the employer and regardless of how or why your contract is terminated, you are not legally liable to pay for this. Companies have been known to ask for installment-based deductions for visa costs from employees - this is illegal and punishable by law.
According to Article 125 of the UAE Labour Law, an employee upon end of contract should be given an end-of-service certificate detailing start date, end date and nature of work performed during the period of employment. It may also state your latest pay or wage details if requested.
An employee can request this certificate upon the end of his or her contract, and the employer would be liable to furnish this, along with any and all certificates belonging to the employee.
Payment of gratuity pay depends on how long you have been employed for as well as your contract type - limited or unlimited.
Visa cancellation and passports
Charges of visa cancellation and the process are the employer's responsibility.
Your passport should be handed over to you immediately after the completion of cancellation.
Many employers still force employees to give up their passports for 'safe-keeping' or as 'guarantee' but this is illegal according to the UAE Labour Law. Only a competent court or other federal authority is allowed to keep your passport.
Some companies agree to give up passports only close to the time of departure from the country - this is also illegal. At no time is your employer allowed to keep your passport, unless visa renewal or cancellation is in progress.