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DUBAI: A doctor in the private sector wants to resign and the employer has refused because of the coronavirus situation. As per the employer, no one working in the medical sector can resign during these times, The doctor wants to know if he will lose his end-of-service benefits. He has been working for three years under a Ministry of Labour unlimited labour contract. What are the options before him?

Answer: As per the federal Labour Law, Section I, Article 113 under the title of Termination of Employment, states that “an employment contract shall terminate in any of the following cases:

1. By mutual agreement of the parties, provided that the worker’s consent is given in writing.

2. Upon expiry of its term, unless it has been expressly or implicitly extended according to the provisions of this law.

3. For the convenience of either party to an indefinite term contract, provided that the provisions of this law concerning the notice and the valid grounds of termination without arbitrariness are adhered to.

Article 137 states that “where a worker under an indefinite term contract abandons his work at his own initiative after a continuous service of not less than one year and not more than three years, he shall be entitled to one-third of the severance pay provided for in the preceding article.”

Such a worker shall be entitled to two thirds of the said severance pay if his continuous service exceeds three years up to five years, and to the full severance pay if it exceeds five years” calculated as follows:

1. 21 days’ wage for each of the first five years of service

2. 30 days’ wage for each additional year of service provided that the aggregate amount of severance pay should not exceed two year’s wages.

Article 139 says, “A worker shall forfeit entitlement to his entire severance pay in any of the following two cases:

1. If he is dismissed from service for any of the reasons specified in Article 120 hereof or if he abandons his employment in order to avoid being dismissed in accordance with that article.

2. If he abandons his employment of his own accord, rather than in either of the two cases specified in Article 121 hereof, without notice (in the case of indefinite term contracts) or before completing five years of continuous service (in case of definite term contracts).

It is understood from all the above articles that a worker may, after declaring to the employer, resign from work, and this resignation is considered as termination of the contract by a sole will and produces its effect as soon as it is presented. The employer cannot withhold paying the employee his dues if he resigns after giving the employer a notice period and works during this notice period.

As for the allegations made by the employer regarding the new decision of the ministry in the wake of COVID-19, and based on the fact that the employer didn’t prove his allegations regarding this decision, the decision should not usually contradict the Labour Law which gives the employee the right to resign after working during the notice period which leads us to the understanding that the new decision might be specified for governmental sectors, not for the private sector, depending on some perceptions and considerations.