Dubai: If you get a new job offer in the UAE, can your previous employer implement a labour ban on you for terminating an unlimited contract? This was the query raised by a Gulf News reader.
He wrote: “I need some legal advice as I have been told by my previous employer that I will be banned because I broke an unlimited contract after taking a new job that came my way. I got hired in January 2020 by an Al Ain-based health services provider as a homecare nurse. Then I got an offer from a hospital in Dubai and an offer letter was issued. Now, my previous company is withholding my passport and asking me for two months’ salary. I was told that that I can collect my passport from the immigration office. Is this justified? Can they really impose a ban and make me pay two months’ salary? Please help.”
Gulf News raised the query with Ahmed Elnaggar, Managing Partner at Elnaggar & Partners, who said: “The mere fact of withholding the passport of any employee against the employee’s will, for any reason, is against the law and is considered by all the relevant authorities in the UAE as a violation. The employee has the right to complain directly to the police department within the relevant area where the passport is withheld by the employer, and the police officers will contact the employer or its representative to visit the police department to hand over the passport to the employee immediately or an arrest warrant will be issued against the violator.”
“With regards to the labour conflict and the claim for a two month penalty, I believe that the employer is at fault, too. For unlimited contracts, the employee got hired for more than a year, which means he is eligible to resign at any time, serving the notice period mentioned in the contract and will be free of any kind of compensation or penalties claimed by the employer in addition to the employee’s eligibility to all his entitlements in terms of the end-of-service benefits,” Elnaggar added.
The mere fact of withholding the passport of any employee against the employee’s will, for any reason, is against the law and is considered by all the relevant authorities in the UAE as a violation.
Legal advice from Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) has set up Twa-fouq centres across the UAE, which investigate labour complaints raised by employers and employee and provides recommendations to MOHRE for approval and to take a decision on the dispute resolution. If a settlement is not reached, the centres refer the case to the Labour Court.
UAE employees can raise their complaints with the centres by calling the hotline on 800 60.