Question: I own a company. A month ago, one of the employees leaked data about a company deal. It was revealed to me through emails sent from the employee’s laptop, which led to great damage to the company. My question: What is the appropriate action to take against this employee, and do I have the legal right to suspend him from work and withhold his salary or prevent him from annual leave, which is supposed to start within a month? Please advise.
Answer: In general, the new labour law does not deprive the employee from his annual leave because it is one of the rights given to him by law. You cannot deprive him taking an annual leave.
The action to be taken is first conduct a direct investigation with him and you can temporarily suspend him from work and suspend half the wage during the investigation period. If you find him guilty, then directly file a criminal case against him for disclosing confidential information in connection with work. You can keep him suspended from work until a final judgement is issued by the competent judicial authority. His wage shall be withheld during the suspension period.
Article 40 of the new Federal Labour Law states: (1) The employer may suspend the worker temporarily from work for a period not exceeding (30) thirty days, in order to conduct a disciplinary investigation with him if the investigation interest so requires, along with keeping half the wage during the suspension period. If the investigation concluded non-violation or punishment of the worker only by warning, the worker shall be paid the wage that was kept during the suspension period.
(2) The employer may temporarily suspend the worker when he is accused of committing a crime of assault on oneself, money, or crimes related to breach of honour or trust, until a final judgement is issued by the competent judicial authority. His wage shall be withheld during the suspension period. If a judgement is issued for not putting the worker into trial, and he is acquitted for absence of felony or the investigation concluded keeping the case due to lack of evidence, he can return to work, and be paid his full suspended wage.
Article 45 (Disclosure of confidential information in connection with work) of the UAE Federal Law by Decree No. 34 of 2021 on Countering Rumours and Cybercrimes, stipulates: “Whoever discloses confidential information obtained by reason of his work or by virtue of his work shall be punished by imprisonment for a period of no less than six months and a fine of no less than Dh200,000 and not more than Dh1 million, or by any of these two penalties. If the offender uses information for his own benefit or for the benefit of another person, this is considered an aggravating circumstance.”