Dubai company insisting on longer notice period for resignation, what should employee do?

The only time an employee must work for longer is if the contract of employment states that a longer notice period is required and that is agreed at outset.

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I submitted my resignation to my present employer, giving them one-month's notice on April 11, but they did not reply officially until nine days later. I have worked for the company for over four years. My contract is unlimited and my designation on my visa is sales executive, but I work in the marketing department. Now HR is saying that they can make me work for three full months as per the law. So, how can I get my visa cancelled and my final settlement? My current salary is Dh6,500 per month and my contract states just Dh5,000 and that hasn't been changed to show my higher salary. The company has also deducted Dh500 from my salary since February 2017 without officially informing me. They transfer Dh5,080 to my salary account and – after a deduction of Dh20 for my mobile phone connection – the balance is paid as cash from the office. I now have a better offer from a new company and really want to leave and start with the new company. My employer is also holding my passport. ND, Abu Dhabi

There are a number of issues here. Firstly, UAE Labour Law, Article 117, states that the standard notice period is 30 days. The only time an employee must work for longer is if the contract of employment states that a longer notice period is required and that is agreed at outset. I have seen a copy of ND’s contract and this clearly states that the notice period is one month.

If an employee’s salary increases it is not necessary for a contract to be updated as the income that is processed via the Wages Protection System (WPS) is deemed a sufficient record of proof of earnings, particularly when calculating the end of service gratuity. The WPS was instigated to protect workers’ rights, so it is concerning that this employer is paying part of the salary in cash outside the system. No employer has the right to arbitrarily deduct money from any employee, so it seems the employer is breaking the law. It is assumed that the salary increase to Dh6,500 is documented in writing, so it can be proved that they are underpaying. It is not uncommon for someone to have an actual job function that is different to that shown on their visa, but provided it is of a similar level and not too dissimilar it is rarely an issue. I would also point out that it is illegal for any employer to retain an individual’s passport.

I recommend that ND contacts the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation on its helpline number 800 665 or go to his local labour office. It is clear that the current employer is not complying with the law on a number of counts and the ministry will be able to assist and instruct the company to accept his resignation and process the cancellation of his visa in a timely manner.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 20 years’ experience. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE.

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only​.

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