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Dubai: As a worker in the UAE, you may be employed under a limited or unlimited contract. If you wish to change jobs, or leave your current employer for any reason, what is the notice period that you need to serve? And are there instances when you are entitled to leave your job without serving a notice period? Here is all that you need to know.

What is a notice period?

When an employer and an employee come into a working relationship, the employment contract clearly states the provisions under which the contract can be terminated. One aspect of the requirements for termination are the need to serve a notice period. A notice period is calculated from the time the employee informs his or her employer of their decision to end the contract to the last working day.

How long should the notice period be?

According to the UAE Labour Law, a notice period cannot be less than a month and cannot exceed a period of three months.

When can I resign without serving a notice period?

An employee can terminate an employment contract without notice period if:

• the employer has failed to meet contractual or legal obligations towards the worker (for example, if he fails to pay wages for a period exceeding 60 days)

• the employee has filed a court complaint against an employer who has failed to secure employment of the worker (for example, in case of a business shutdown or if the business has been inactive for a period exceeding two months)

• the final ruling for a Labour complaint referred to the Labour Court by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) is in favour of the worker.

The need to serve a notice period in all other situations

Apart from the exceptional situations mentioned above, an employee is obliged to serve a notice period if he or she wishes to quit. The required duration of the notice period would be clearly stated in your employment contract.

If you fail to serve the notice period, you may be obligated to compensate the employer by paying remuneration for the number of days for which you have not served the notice period. This is according to Article 119 of the UAE Labour Law, which states: “If the employer or the employee has failed to serve notice to the other party for termination of the contract or has reduced the notice period, the party obliged to serve the notice shall pay to the other party an indemnity called ‘Compensation in lieu of notice’, and it is incurred by the other party as a result of failure to give notice or for reduction of said period, and the indemnity shall be equal to the employee's pay for the notice period in full or in proportion to the diminished part.”