Dubai: Switching jobs, or planning to move out of the UAE? Regardless of what your situation is, if you are leaving a job in the UAE, it is essential to ensure that your work permit or ‘labour card’ is cancelled.
Work permits are issued by the UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and need to be renewed with the Ministry, as per their duration. Failing to do so can lead to fines being levied on the work permit. But if a labour card is not cancelled, who is liable to pay the fines – the employer or the employee? Gulf News spoke to legal experts to find out.
Situations when a company shuts down
According to Mohamed Gamal, Legal Adviser at Kaden Boriss Legal Consultants Dubai, if a company is about to close, all employees must be notified and given their rights in terms of notice period and end-of-service compensation.
“If that has not happened , the employee has the right to hold the company accountable through labour complaints and then refer to the court for receipt of his or her benefits,” Gamal said.
If that has not happened , the employee has the right to hold the company accountable through labour complaints and then refer to the court for receipt of his or her benefits
Once the labour complaint is filed, the case may be settled amicably between the two parties, before it goes to court. In such a situation, the company is required to cancel the employee’s work permit, after getting a written confirmation from the employee that he or she has received all the end-of-service benefits.
In case the matter is not settled amicably, it is taken to court. Once a judgement is given, the worker should ensure that he or she applies for cancellation of work permit.
“The worker must apply to MOHRE within 14 days from the date of the judgement to cancel the work permit so that he or she can work again and modify his or her status in the country within 30 days from the date of cancellation of the work permit and his residence permit,” Gamal said.
Failing to cancel your work permit can have serious consequences, according to Gamal, including an ‘administrative ban’.
“The system of work within the UAE is linked to the system of immigration – you must have a residence permit within the country, which often depends on the contract of employment. By having a penalty on your work permit, you are also exposed to the possibility of committing an offence of immigration and residence due to unlawful residence within the UAE,” Gamal said.
Leaving the UAE without cancelling your work permit
If you were in a situation where you lost your job and left the UAE soon after, without ensuring that your work permit was cancelled, you will face difficulties in getting a new job in the UAE, if you plan to return. This is because the fines on your work permit would still reflect in the MOHRE system. You may also be liable to pay those fines, according to Gamal.
“If fines are imposed and the company no longer exists, you will be liable to pay those fines, especially because you have the right to cancel your work permit if you cannot communicate with the company or it no longer exists,” he said.
Gamal added that in situations where your company shuts down, it is advisable to seek legal advice, to ensure that your work permit is cancelled.
Legal options for employees
In case the employee signed the cancellation letter, left the country, and at a later stage decided to come back for a new job but found out that there are fines applied against him or her, then please note that all the fines should have been applied against the former employer and not against the employee. Therefore, in this case, the employee shall approach the Ministry to submit a complaint to remove any fines applied against him or her.
What happens if an employee was unaware that he or she needed to cancel a work permit? What is the legal recourse available?
According to Mohamed Elmasry, an associate at Alsuwaidi and Company Advocates and Legal Consultants, this depends on whether the employee signed the ‘cancellation letter’ before leaving the UAE.
“The cancellation letter is a letter drafted by the employer and signed by the employee upon termination or resignation. This letter will be sent by the employer to MOHRE for their reference and action, which is visa cancellation. In case the employee signed the cancellation letter, left the country, and at a later stage decided to come back for a new job but found out that there are fines applied against him or her, then please note that all the fines should have been applied against the former employer and not against the employee. Therefore, in this case, the employee shall approach the Ministry to submit a complaint to remove any fines applied against him or her,” Elmasry said.
“In case the employee did not sign the cancellation letter, then please note that the fines may be applied against the company and the employee as well. In this case, the employee may approach the Ministry to submit a grievance to remove any fines applied against him or her, attaching with the grievance the new offer to support his or her position. However, it is up to the Ministry to either accept the grievance or not,” Elmasry added.
To know more about how you can file a labour complaint – in the first scenario – with MOHRE, read our detailed guide here.
To know more about how to file a grievance with MOHRE, read our detailed guide here.