What is arbitrary dismissal?
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Dubai: If you feel you have been terminated unfairly by your employer, there are provisions in the UAE Labour Law that clearly state an employees’ rights and the recourse available to the individual.

Arbitrary or unfair dismissal, according to the UAE Labour Law, takes place when an employer terminates an employee or forces him to resign without any justifiable reasons.

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This is what the UAE Labour Law says with regards to arbitrary dismissal.

According to Article 122 of the UAE Labour Law, arbitrary termination of an employee happens when an employee is fired for reasons not related to work performance, or when the employee files a valid complaint against an employer, which made the latter terminate him maliciously.

Article 122 of the UAE Labour Law

The termination of the employment of the worker by the employer shall be deemed arbitrary should the cause of termination not be related to the work, in particular should the termination of the employment of the worker be made by reason of the filing by the latter of a serious complaint before the pertinent authorities or a valid claim against the employer.

However, it is important to distinguish arbitrary dismissal from reasons an employer is justified in terminating an employee’s contract.

Article 120 of the UAE Labour lays out the reasons for which termination without notice is lawful.

20200821 termination letter
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Article 120

The employer may dismiss the worker without prior notice in any of the following cases:

a - Should the worker assume false identity or nationality, or submits false certificates or documents.

b - Should the worker be appointed under probation, and the dismissal occur during or at the end of the probation period.

c - Should the worker commit an error resulting in colossal material losses to the employer, provided that the Labour Department is notified of the incident within 48 hours of the knowledge of the occurrence thereof.

d - Should the worker violate the instructions related to the safety at work or in the work place, provided that such instructions be written and posted in a prominent location, and that he is notified thereof should he be illiterate.

e - Should the worker fail to perform his main duties in accordance with the employment contract, and fail to remedy such failure despite a written investigation on the matter and a warning that he will be dismissed in case of recidivism.

f - Should he divulge any of the secret of the establishment where he works.

g - Should he be convicted in a final manner by the competent court in a crime of honour, honesty or public ethics.

h - Should he be found in a state of drunkenness or under the influence of a narcotic during work hours.

i - Should he assault during the work the employer, responsible manager or co-worker.

j - Should he be absent without valid cause for more than twenty non-consecutive days in one year, or for more than seven consecutive days.

Some examples of arbitrary dismissal

Forced resignation

If an employer forces you to submit your resignation under threats of termination or citing performance related issues, damage to property or any other reason, it is considered arbitrary dismissal.

Termination on pretext of poor performance

The employer cannot terminate someone without adequate notice or initial actions regardless of their performance. There are certain disciplinary actions which can be taken lawfully if the employer genuinely feels that the employee is not performing well, only after the exhaustion of which he or she can initiate termination processes.

Demotion or forced transfer

Demotion or forceful transfer with low pay is also considered as a form of arbitrary dismissal. As per the Dubai Supreme Court, downgrading an employee for no reason is considered a form of arbitrary dismissal and the submission of resignation by the employee, in this case, is an expression of his disagreement to such a downgrade.

Termination on pretext of loss to company

Loss of any kind to employer should be reported to the Ministry of Labour or MOHRE (full form needed) with proof within 48 hours of knowledge of the incident that resulted in such loss. If the employer has not done this, a termination based on this reason is considered as arbitrary dismissal.

If an employee believes that he has been dismissed illegally, he can complain to Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. The ministry will try to solve the issue amicably. If an amicable settlement is not reached, the case will be referred to the respective court.

I got fired for no reason, what are my rights?

As per Article 123 of the UAE Labour Law, if arbitrary dismissal is proven, the court will order the employer to pay a compensation to the employee. The court will assess the value of compensation taking into account the type of work, the extent of damage incurred to the employee and the duration of the employment. In all cases, the amount of compensation must not exceed the wage of the employee for a period of three months, calculated on the basis of the last wage the worker is entitled to.

Article 123

As amended by Federal Law no. 12 dated 29/10/1986:

a - Should the worker be arbitrarily dismissed, the competent court may order the employer to pay a compensation to the worker. The court shall assess such compensation, taking into account the type of work and the extent of damage incurred to the worker as well as the duration of employment and after the investigation of the work conditions. In all cases, the amount of compensation shall not exceed the wage of the worker for a period of three months calculated on the basis of the last due wage.

b - The provisions of the preceding paragraph shall not breach the right of the worker to the gratuity entitled thereto and the compensation in lieu of notice provided for herein.

So, in addition to compensation, the employee can claim his gratuity, notice period dues or any other unpaid dues he is entitled to from his employer.

Who can I raise my case with?

As an employee, you are entitled to raise your case with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. You can file a case against your employer by reaching out to the Ministry through their website – www.mohre.gov.ae, by calling them on 800 60 or by downloading the MOHRE app. You would need to create an account first, using your Emirates ID. You can then file a complaint with the Ministry.