I live in Dubai. I have been working in a company for more than two years. I now have a job offer from another company, which is offering better entitlements. My current contract is for an unlimited period and provides for three months’ notice period. My employer has informed me that if I choose to resign, I am required to serve the notice period. Will I be violating the labour law if I don’t serve the notice period? Is there any clause in the law that allows an employee to financially compensate the employer instead of serving the notice period? Is the employment contract deemed terminated once resignation is submitted? As per the labour law, the notice period is only one month.

In accordance with the labour law, if an employee, who is under a contract for an unlimited period, wishes to resign, he/she shall give notice to the employer and work during the period if required by the employer. The labour law obliges an employee to serve the notice period unless the employer grants a waiver. If an employee refuses to serve the notice period, he/she may be subject to penalties. As per the labour law, notice period is for one month. An employer and employee may agree to increase the period, but not decrease it.

Finally, in accordance with Article 118 of Federal Labour Law 8 of 1980, the employment contract shall remain in force till the end of the notice period.

Arbitrary dismissal

I have worked in a factory for more than three years. A month ago, one of the machines that I am responsible for was permanently damaged due to a mistake on my part. My employer told me that he is going to buy a new machine on my account, or terminate my services immediately if I don’t agree to pay for the new machine. A month later, however, the employer terminated my services without notice. The letter of termination mentioned that I was being dismissed under Article 120 of the labour law for causing damages to the employer. Is my employer justified in dismissing me from work one month after the incident? I was also subjected to a 15-day salary cut. My employer is also refusing to pay my end-of-service benefits.

Article 120 of the labour law which the employer is citing to terminate the questioner’s services without notice is not applicable in this case. According to this article, the employer was required to notify the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation within 48 hours of the machine breaking down, claiming that he incurred material loss as a result of the mistake. Therefore, I advise the questioner to file a complaint against the employer before the ministry to claim his rights. The questioner can request the ministry to consider his termination as arbitrary dismissal and refer his complaint to the competent court in case no amicable settlement can be reached with the employer.

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