1. Filing a letter of complaint against your employer
Q: 'If I filed a complaint against my employer can they fire me?'
I have worked in a company for more than two years. I have now filed a complaint against my employer for not granting me annual leave during this period. When the employer came to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, he gave me a termination letter. He said my services were being terminated because I had filed a complaint against him before the ministry. I refused to accept the letter. Is the employer entitled to terminate me for this reason, or am I entitled to object to it in court and request it to reinstate me? Will this termination be considered arbitrary dismissal? Will the termination letter be considered valid even though I rejected the letter?
A: ‘Termination for filing complaint against employer is illegal’
Article 122 of Federal Labour Law No 8 of 1980 states: “A worker’s service shall be deemed to have been arbitrarily terminated by his employer if the reason for the termination is irrelative to the work and, particularly, if the reason is that the worker has submitted a serious complaint to the competent authorities, or has instituted legal proceedings against the employer that have proved to be valid.
As for the possibility of being reinstated, the law does not oblige the employer to reinstate the worker again even if he was dismissed arbitrarily.
Finally, as per the law, one party — employer or employee — does not require the other’s consent to terminate the employment contract.
2. The laws for vacating company accommodation
Q: ‘Do I need to vacate company accommodation if I am terminated?'
I have worked in a company for more than two years. My labour contract states that I shall be paid a salary plus commission. A month ago, the employer terminated my services because I asked him to pay my overdue commissions. In the past, every time I asked my employer to pay me my commission, he promised to pay me the following month, but never did. Two weeks ago, I filed a complaint against my employer, which was referred to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, which in turn referred the complaint to court after I failed to reach an amicable solution with my employer. I live in the company’s accommodation along with my family. Now, the employer has asked me to vacate the accommodation within a month, or else he has threatened to cut off the electricity. Is the employer entitled to evict me from the accommodation before paying me my end-of-service gratuity? As per the UAE labour law, when do I have to leave the company accommodation?
A: ‘The worker shall be obliged to vacate the premises within 30 days’
Article 131 of Federal Labour Law No 8 of 1980 states: that in cases where the employer provides accommodation to the worker, the worker shall be obliged to vacate the premises within 30 days from the date of termination of his services. The worker should not delay vacating the premises for any reason, provided that the employer pays the worker the following:
The expenses specified under the law, and severance pay and any other entitlements he is obliged to pay in accordance with the labour contract, the establishment’s regulations, or the law.
If the worker disagrees with the amount of the expenses and entitlements, the labour department shall determine, as a matter of urgency, and within a week from being notified, these expenses and entitlements and shall inform the worker.
The counting of the 30-day grace period for vacating the company accommodation shall commence from the date of the employer depositing the employee’s expenses and entitlements. If the employee does not vacate the premises within this period, the labour department with the assistance of competent authorities shall take necessary administrative measures to get the premises vacated.
In all circumstances, the worker has the right to take his case to court.
Finally, as per the law, nobody has the right to cut the electricity supply to the premises unless authorised by a court.
3. Unpaid Salary
Q: ‘What do I do about my unpaid salary?’
I have been employed in a company in Dubai for almost two years on a limited labour contract. After 13 months of service, I got a salary increment. I was paid the new salary for eight months, but early last year the company withheld a percentage of my salary promising to pay it to me every three months. The agreement was verbal. Till date, however, the portion of salary withheld has not been paid to me. Can I claim this amount at the end of my contract, or if the company terminates my services before the contract ends? What legal procedures can I use to get the withheld amount? Second, can I ask my employer to compensate me for unused annual leave? Is annual leave calculated as per basic salary mentioned in the labour contract or as per the current salary level? Third, am I entitled to gratuity upon completion of my limited contract, or in case I resign?
A: ‘You should have claimed the amount as of one year from the due date’
The questioner may claim all his rights from the company where he is employed upon the expiry of his contract, in particular his salary arrears. He should have claimed this amount as of one year from the due date. The questioner may claim unused annual leave pay for a maximum of two years. This amount shall be calculated on the basis of the last salary received by the questioner and not the salary mentioned in the labour contract. The questioner may claim end-of-service gratuity for the period of two years when his limited contract is over.
4. Forced resignation
Q: ‘Help, I am being forced to resign’
I have been working in a company in Dubai for two years on an unlimited contract. My manager has now asked me to tender my resignation citing poor performance and financial problems that the company is facing. The company has threatened to terminate my contract if I don’t resign. They even started the countdown of my notice period with a mail stating that it began on December 1 and that it covers three months as per the labour contract. Under the UAE Labour Law, does an employer not need to have legitimate reasons to terminate an employee’s service? Is forcing me to sign a letter of resignation legally acceptable? When does the notice period start? What are the disadvantages in case I submit my resignation?
A: ‘Company can’t force the employee to resign’
As per the UAE Labour Law, no employee can be forced to resign. If the questioner submits his resignation, it will only make the employer’s case stronger in a legal dispute. In addition, the end-of-service gratuity will be less; in the case of the questioner, it will be calculated as one-third of his one month’s salary for every year served. As for the notice period, the labour law obliges all parties (worker and employer) to submit notice to each other if one wishes to terminate the unlimited labour contract; the period of notice as per the Labour Law shall be not less than one month, but both parties may agree to increase this period. The notice period shall be effective from the date of resignation or the termination of the labour contract by either party. Therefore, if the company fires the questioner, the questioner may claim his rights which are specified by the Labour Law and also has the right to ask the court concerned for a compensation for the arbitrary dismissal if he could prove that the company has fired him not as per the UAE Labour Law.
5. Gratuity and end of service benefits
Q: 'What about my end of service'
I have worked in a company in Dubai for a year. My services have been terminated and I want to take up employment with a new company. Will my end-of-service gratuity be calculated on the basis of 21 or 30 days? I was working on a two-year limited labour contract. Will my gratuity be calculated on the basis of two years of service, or one year only, as my employer terminated me without valid reason? Do I have the right to receive an air ticket home?
A: ‘If you have worked there for over one year, you are entitled to severance pay on termination’
Article 132 of the UAE Labour Law states: “A worker who has completed a period of one or more years of continuous service shall be entitled to severance pay on the termination of his employment. The days of absence from work without pay shall not be included in calculating the period of service. The severance pay shall be calculated as follows: 21 days’ remuneration for each year of the first five years of service, and 30 days’ remuneration for each additional year of service provided that the aggregate amount of severance pay shall not exceed two years’ remuneration.”
Therefore, the questioner is entitled to receive three months’ salary as a compensation from his employer because it was the latter who broke the limited contract.
As per the Dubai Supreme Court, the questioner is entitled to an air ticket only if he going back home and not going to join a new employer.
Questions are answered by advocate Mohammad Ebrahim Al Shaiba of Al Shaiba Advocates and Legal Consultants