labour law

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August 31, 2020

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Stuck in Dubai and jobless: what happens when you're fired on leave

As the COVID-19 pandemic brought life across the world to a standstill, many people found themselves stuck in situations, unable to travel to continue their work or reunite with their families.

Such a situation affected a Gulf News reader, who wrote in sharing his experience of finding out that he had been fired from his job while he was on an emergency leave to India.

The reader, who requested to withhold his name, said:

" I have been working in a company since May 1997 and my current designation is 'Purchase Manager' On March 18, 2020, I went to my native country — India, in an emergency due to the demise of my mother, and I could not come back immediately as all the flight services were cancelled due to the lockdown in India.I came back on July 15, 2020 once the flight service resumed and on the next day I reported to my office. I did this through email, as I could not join immediately due to the 14-day mandatory quarantine as per UAE law.

The next day, I received a reply from the CEO informing me that, 'your services are no longer required as that role has been filled within the organization. Kindly follow up with the previous owners/management to collect your end-of-service benefits and vacation dues'. This meant that the company was sold during my vacation and this reply was from the new CEO of the company. Accordingly, I contacted the previous management, but I still did not get my settlement or proper reply on when they would clear my dues.

In the meantime, my visa expired on July 1, 2020 and I am now statin at home without a salary. When I was leaving for the emergency, I had approximately 60 days' vacation due. When the long lockdown was declared in India and there was uncertainty regarding the operation of the flight service, I requested the management to grant my vacation and to pay my leave salary which is due but they refused and released only 14 days emergency leave salary. Kindly let me know, who is responsible to settle my end-of-service benefits for over 23 years of service, along with more than 57 days' vacation salary"

Also, who is responsible for paying the overstay fine" Shall I claim my salary form the date of arrival in UAE until my visa was cancelled" Your advice is highly appreciable to proceed with further steps, " he added.

Gulf News raised the issue with Dr. Hassan Elhais, legal consultant in Dubai at Dubai-based Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultancy, who clarified the reader's rights in such situation.

He said: " The employer's conduct to terminate you while you could not return from your vacation has a result of the pandemic may be considered as arbitrary termination which attracts up to three months of compensation payable by the employer to the employee. Accordingly, you may file a labour complaint against the company and follow it up with a Labour court case.

While the management of the company has changed, it should not release the company from its liability — as the company is an independent legal entity.

Therefore, you may claim all your entitlements from the company itself. With regards to your visa, you may coordinate with the court and the labour department after you have registered the court case.

You may need to submit proof of the court case registration. Accordingly, subject to the labour department's discretion and fulfilling their requirements you may stay within the UAE or join another employer while the case is ongoing.

Furthermore, you may file a Labour court case against the company claim your entitlements including end-of-service benefits, pending leaves, compensation notice period pay, and bonus, if any up until your last date of employment — which is your termination date. "

How to file a labour case?

You can file a case against your employer with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE).

Labour dispute procedure

  • The complainant first needs to submit the application of the labour dispute to the concerned department at MOHRE.
  • The department concerned will call the two parties to the dispute and take the action it deems necessary to settle the dispute amicably. At this stage, the parties are not obliged to accept the settlement.
  • If an amicable settlement is not reached, the department must, within two weeks from the date of receiving the request, forward the dispute to the Labour court concerned.
  • The competent court will, within three days from the date of receiving the request, fix a hearing for the claim and notify the two parties.

The new temporary work permit is for a period of six months against a fee of Dh500 to be paid by the new employer. The new work permit is renewable for another six months.


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