Benjamin Burgher, Legal Consultant, Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, speaks as Dr Hanif Hassan and others look on at Dr. Hasan’s Majlis in Khawaneej, Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: More than 60 per cent of labour disputes arise from non-payment of wages and do not require protracted litigation and should be settled out of court, a legal expert said during a presentation in Dubai on Saturday evening.

Addressing a group of business leaders, community elders and legal experts, Benjamin Burgher, Legal consultant to Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD), noted that labour cases dealing with non-payment of salaries are simple matters where there is no dispute and should not come to the court.

Sorting pay disputes out of court

“Clearly, if a person is not paid for two months and it is obvious from the wages protection system that the worker has not been paid, then you don’t need a judge to tell you that the worker needs to be paid.

"So this is what we are trying to achieve in Abu Dhabi. Trying to bring in a system where these sort of pay disputes are settled without having to approach the court,” said Burgher, speaking to Gulf News following his presentation at the majlis of Dr Hanif Hassan in Khwaneej on Saturday.

The presentation was part of a regular majlis that Dr Hassan, Chairman and Founder of Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, hosts to create awareness about important legal and strategic issues among the community and business leaders.

Burgher added: “We are discussing the viability of judicial ‘payment orders’ to expedite the process for the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) to liquidate the employer guarantee or claim on the newly introduced insurance.”

Judicial payment orders

The proposal of judicial payment orders is part of a series of recommendations and changes that are being implemented in Abu Dhabi as the emirate aims to bring in greater efficiency and urgency in dealing with labour cases.

The recent changes include the newly formed Abu Dhabi Labour Court, which is targeting a time frame of 60 days for resolution of disputes, as part of an overhaul of the labour justice system.

“Our main focus now is to bring the time limit of cases down. Our target is to get labour disputes resolved within 60 days,” said Burgher.

According to Burgher, the changes have helped expedite the process of delivering justice.

“Bringing in greater efficiency is the key, if cases can be dealt with efficiently then we have better reputation, which also means workers do not have to wait for too long for getting their rights and entitlements,” he added.

Burgher called for greater collaboration between the labour court and MOHRE for faster delivery of justice.

“The more cases that are settled by MOHRE, the less pressure on the court system. There is a lot of collaboration between the labour court and MOHRE to reduce the number of cases. They have a big responsibility to settle cases and to ensure cases don’t even get to court,” the legal expert said.

Dedicated labour court

Burgher joined the ADJD early last year to review the labour court system and the administration of labour cases in Abu Dhabi and has made a series of recommendations over the last 18 months.

Among the major legal changes that came into effect following Burgher’s recommendations was the institution of a dedicated Labour Court.

Another key development was the introduction of One Day Court to deal with smaller matters.

The One Day Court which was set up in October last year, deals with a case and gives a judgement on the same day.

“The One Day court only handles cases dealing with under Dh20,000 and so far we have been able to handle more than 700 cases through this court,” he said.