Dubai: If you have been offered a flight ticket every year by your employer, as per your employment contract, but the amount you receive is not enough to buy an air ticket, are you entitled to make a claim with the Labour Court? A Gulf News reader wrote in with this query.
He said: “I read the Gulf News article on how a company is not legally obliged to give employees a flight ticket every year. However, what happens if a yearly ticket has already been agreed upon and signed for in the contract between the two parties? If the employment contract states that the employer will provide a yearly air ticket to me and my family, what rate needs to be considered for encashment? The current flight rates or any rate chosen by the employer? Can this be challenged in the court, as encashment is not sufficient to purchase the agreed upon tickets?”
Gulf News raised the query with Dr Mohamed Alaa, Senior Legal Counsel at Al Dhaheri International Advocates and Legal Consultants, said that benefits mentioned in the employment contract can be claimed by employees, in case they are not fulfilled by the employer.
“In my opinion, the employee has to differentiate between the legal obligations on the employer – which are sated by the UAE Labour Law, such as gratuity or notice period – and contractual obligations, such as an annual air ticket, a bonus, etc. If your contract obliges the employer to give you an annual air ticket, the employer must give it to you, or to give you its value [in cash] every year,” Dr Alaa said.
If your contract obliges the employer to give you an annual air ticket, the employer must give it to you, or to give you its value [in cash] every year.
In terms of the value of the ticket, Dr Alaa said that the amount should be based on the market value, which can be determined by requesting for a quotation from a few travel agencies, for tickets during the time the annual leave was taken. This is because prices of air tickets can fluctuate and the price should be based on when the leave was taken by the employee.
What if my employer does not pay the necessary amount?
According to Dr Alaa, employees are entitled to claim the amount, if the contract clearly states so.
“The employee can claim it in case he took his annual leave, but the employer didn't give him his annual air ticket. Hence, the employee should claim its value (as paid) in writing from the employer, and if the employer rejects it or ignores it, the employee should take legal action. In case the employee chooses not to go for an annual leave, he still has the right to claim it along with the annual leave reimbursement. However, its value should be agreed upon in the contract, or it will be as per the market rate, if there is nothing mentioned in the agreement,” he said.
In case the employee wants to raise the case with the Labour Court, it is important to not wait until you resign to claim any past unpaid air tickets. This is because the right has a limitation of one year from the due date, within which the case can be filed, according to Dr Alaa.
How to file a complaint
If you wish to raise your complaint with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE), you can register it 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 www.mohre.gov.ae and select the option for filing a labour complaint.
You can read our detailed guide on how the Ministry’s Twa-fouq centres assist employers and employees settle disputes and how you can escalate unresolved complains with the Labour Court, here.