Dubai municipality guidelines for office goers
Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: If you are a new worker in the UAE, you may still be getting accustomed to the work culture and the labour laws that affect you, including your rights and responsibilities. One of the biggest factors to keep in mind when you are working in the UAE is that you need to have the right work permit in order to be employed in the country. Similarly, to live in the UAE you need to ensure you have a valid employment or residence visa, sponsored by a family member (for residence visas) or by your employer (for an employment visa). If you are a professional, you can also sponsor yourself as a freelancer.

As reported by Gulf News earlier, an employer in the UAE is legally responsible for covering the cost of the employment visa. However, what are your rights if your company forces you to pay the employment visa fees? A reader wrote in, raising this query.

The reader said: “I work in Abu Dhabi. My boss is forcing me to pay the company the cost of the employment visa. What can I do?”

Gulf News raised the query with Ahmed Elnaggar, Managing Partner at Elnaggar & Partners, who spoke about what the UAE Labour Law says regarding which party is required to pay the fees for the employment visa of a worker.

“I cannot stress enough that such a practice [of demanding employment visa fees from an employee] is illegal. The employer has no right to pass the obligation of the visa payments or related expenses on to the employee,” Elnaggar said.

He added that apart from the visa and work permit fees, the employer is also required by law to cover the expenses of any professional memberships that the employee might need, like the cards issued to doctors by Dubai Health Authority (DHA) or to lawyers and legal consultants by Dubai Legal Affairs Department (DLAD).

I cannot stress enough that such a practice [of demanding employment visa fees from an employee] is illegal.

- Ahmed Elnaggar, Managing Partner at Elnaggar & Partners

“The employee should reject such a request by the employer and in case the employer deducts the amount at the source, like cutting the amount from the employee’s salary, he or she would have the right to complain to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE). They will be able to recover the amount that was forfeited in an illegal way,” Elnaggar said.

How to raise a labour complaint with MOHRE

Twa-fouq centres are service centres licensed by MOHRE, which receive labour complaints submitted by an employer or an employee. The centres investigate the complaints and provide recommendations to MOHRE for approval and to take a decision on the dispute resolution or refer the case to the judiciary. They also provide legal advice and replies to inquiries related to work relations.

You can file a complaint with MOHRE through the following options:

1. Call the Ministry’s hotline on 800 60.

2. Download the MOHRE app and file a labour complaint

3. Visit and select the option for filing a labour complaint.

You would need to create an online account if you are choosing the second and third option. To create an account, you need to provide your passport details and work permit (labour card) number.

Once you file a complaint, you will receive a call within 72 working hours from a legal advisor with the Twa-fouq centre, who will try to initially find an amicable solution to the issue.

There is no fee charged from an employee for this process.

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