What is absconding:
The term ‘absconding’ means to leave ‘hurriedly and secretly, typically to escape from custody or avoid arrest’. This term has a special meaning in terms of the Federal Law no. 8 of 1980 regarding the organization of labour relations and its amendments (the ‘UAE Labour Law’). Pursuant to the UAE Labour Law, if an employee absents himself from reporting to work for a consecutive period of seven days or for an intermittent period of twenty-one days within the course of one year of his employment without a lawful reason, then it can be constituted as absconding, and the employer may take action against the said employee.
“ARTICLE 120 (10) The employer may dismiss the employee without notice in the following cases: If he absents himself without lawful excuse for more than twenty intermittent days or for more than seven successive days during one year.”
However, if there exists a valid reason due to which the employee was not able to report to work, then considering the said conditions, ‘ absconding’ should not be affected. The specific conditions upon which legal action for absconding will not be allowed include the following:
- If the employee has not reported working due to the fact that he is on annual leave. Provided such annual leave must be with permission from the employer.( Article (76): The employer may at his discretion determine the date for commencement of annual leaves and, when necessary, he may decide to divide the leave into two parts at the most, except in cases of juveniles where vacation may not be divided in parts)
- If the employee has filed a labour complaint against the employer and the same is pending consideration before the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MOHRE) and or the UAE Courts.
- The worker is facing an unforeseen situation (‘Force Majeure) that is beyond his control, due to which he has been unable to report to work. In such cases, the employee should take adequate precautions to notify the employer with adequate written communication and showcase the reasons for such delay.
- If the employer is intending to report absconding the employee in bad faith in order to terminate the said employee from the employment wrongfully.
An absconding report is submitted at the instance of the employer. In order to file an absconding report, the employer needs to open a labour complaint against the employee before the MOHRE. The requisites for filing such complaints will be thoroughly checked by the MOHRE, and if the conditions are not matched, then such complaints will be withdrawn by MOHRE itself. The employer is also required to submit a security deposit with the MOHRE for filing such a complaint (approximately Aed 3000).
The employer can also face penalties of up to Aed 10,000/- if an absconding report is filed in bad faith. The employees must also exercise adequate care and caution when they are absent themselves from work and should ensure that they are reporting their absence pursuant to the company policies in the right channels by written communication. Absence for medical reasons should be carefully documented by providing medical sick leave certificates.