Know the rules before switching jobs on probation

It is generally accepted that a UAE employee must work an agreed notice period even if they resign during their probationary period, unless agreed otherwise with their employer.

Powered by automated translation

I am currently employed by a free-zone company in Dubai Silicon Oasis and I am on an unlimited contract. The company has a three-month probation period, and I have only completed one month so far. My employment visa is under process. I want to leave the company due to professional and personal issues with my boss and have received an offer from a company in another free zone. Is it a viable option to leave my current job during the probation period? BB, Dubai

While UAE Labour Law is not entirely clear on this point, it is generally accepted that an employee must work an agreed notice period even if they resign during their probationary period, unless agreed otherwise with their employer. Note that a probationary period can be for a maximum of six months. That said, it is unusual to expect someone who has only just joined a company to work a three-month notice period, but if this is set out in the contract of employment and agreed by both parties it is enforceable. While there are no issues with changing employer within the same free zone – no matter how long someone has been with a company – moving to a company in a different free zone, as in this case, presents the same issues as any other job change. If the move is within two years of taking up the position – or one year for those with higher educational qualifications and higher salaries – a ban of six months could apply. Mr B says his visa is “under process” and whether a ban will apply may depend on how far that process has progressed. The employer should have put in the visa application the moment Mr B started work, but many companies are slow to do so, despite this being illegal. So if no application has been registered with the Ministry of Labour and he is permitted to leave sooner he may be able to avoid an employment ban.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with more than 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. Readers are encouraged to seek appropriate independent legal advice.

Follow us on Twitter @TheNationalPF