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Question

Three months ago, I rented a villa in Dubai for a year. My contract expires in September. I have paid my rent in four post-dated cheques. A month ago, my company terminated my service with a month’s notice. I immediately started searching for another job. I found a new job but with half the salary I had been receiving. As I cannot afford the high rent with my new salary, I approached my real estate office to inform it that I want to cancel the contract. I provided my original termination letter along with my new job offer letter, which shows less salary. Rental office officials informed me that I have to pay three months’ rent and that they will not return the security deposit. They said the landlord has the right not to return the security deposit as per the Dubai rental law if the tenancy contract is breached by the tenant. They say the deposit amount was used for maintenance. I requested them that I have no option and I am vacating because I cannot afford the high rent. What are my options as per the rental law in Dubai? What if I file a rental case in case no amicable settlement could be reached with the rental office? Does the real estate office have the right to hold back my deposit?

Answer

The tenancy contract is binding on both parties and no one party may terminate it without the consent of the other unless otherwise provided by the contract. Therefore, the questioner should try to resolve the matter amicably with the landlord and offer him compensation for the termination of the contract. I do not advise the questioner to file a rental case as the judgement may not be better than the offer made by the real estate office. As for the deposit available with the landlord, the landlord shall return the amount on the basis that it was available with him against deliberate damages, which may have been caused by the tenant. Note that maintenance is the responsibility of the landlord unless otherwise agreed on. Finally, the Dubai rental law does not give the property owner the right to hold back the security deposit in case a tenant breaches the tenancy contract.


Question

I’ve been working for more than eight months in a company on an unlimited contract. My offer letter states that the working hours per day is 10 hours without any overtime pay. Last month, I sent an email to my company demanding that I should get overtime pay because I have been working two extra hours a day. However, the management told me that anyone who does not comply with the terms in the company’s offer letter will be terminated from service. They said since I had signed the offer letter which stated that my working hours would be 10 hours a day, this agreement has become legal. Do I have the right not to obey the offer letter, which I feel is against the UAE Labour Law? Do I have the right to terminate my contract objecting to the working hours? At the same time, is the travelling time from home and office included in an employee’s hours of work?

Answer

Article 65 of the UAE 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 cafés and of guard duties and any other operations where such increase is authorised by the order of the Ministers of Labour and Social Affairs. The daily hours of work may be reduced in the case of arduous or unhealthy operations by the order of the Ministers of Labour and Social Affairs. The normal hours of work shall be reduced by two during the month of Ramadan. The time spent by a worker in travelling between home and place of work shall not be included in his hours of work”.

Therefore, the employer has violated the above article and if he refuses to pay for the overtime hours, the questioner shall file a complaint before the Ministry of Labour in this regard. If the employer terminates the employment contract for the reason that the questioner is asking for his overtime right, the employer will be in breach of the employment contract. Finally, the clause mentioned in the offer letter that the employee has to work for 10 hours a day and signed by both parties will be considered null and illegal as per the UAE Labour Law.

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