'My husband absconded from the UAE five years ago. Can he return on a tourist visa for a holiday?'

Under the UAE Labour Law, absconders receive a one-year employment ban


Dhows unloading and loading items by Deira's Spice Market.

For many people, the creek (Khor) with its dhow moorings, abra water taxis, and souks is the very essence of the old city - the place where many things have started. 

For decades, Dubai Creek has been a hub of activity as traders bring in goods and sell their wares at the bustling markets nearby.

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My husband absconded from the UAE five years ago when he moved back to the UK and did not return. We want to come to Dubai on holiday but are unsure if he will be refused entry when we arrive. Could you advise how we can find out what the situation is beforehand so that we can try to sort this out? He only wants to visit as a tourist. Will this problem affect me too? JW, UK

The term “abscond” is used when an employee in the UAE does not return to work and fails to give notice that they have left their job. This results in a one-year employment ban.

This is covered in Articles 128 and 129 of the UAE Labour Law. Article 128 states: “Should the non-national worker leave work without a valid cause prior to the end of the contract with definite term, he may not get another employment even with the permission of the employer for a year from the date of abandonment of the work. No employer may knowingly recruit the worker or retain in his service during such period.” Article 129 is similar and refers to unlimited employment contracts.

An employer can apply for an absconding ban if a person fails to show for work for seven days

An absconding ban is usually for up to 12 months and the person will be unable to enter the UAE or obtain employment in the country during this period. Absconding bans are not permanent, although someone who receives more than one could find that they end up with a permanent ban.

If JW’s husband received an absconding ban five years ago it is unlikely to be valid now and should not prevent him from entering the UAE on a tourist visa. It is assumed that he did not leave any unpaid debts as that is a different situation altogether. It certainly will not affect JW in any way.

For confirmation that no travel ban is in place, he can try the Dubai Police website or app. However, you should note that this is for Dubai only. You can also contact the General Directorate of Residents and Foreigner Affairs, which has a main office in each emirate. For Dubai, the website with contact information can be found here.

Strictly speaking, a visa should remain valid until such time as the contract ends by mutual agreement and until payments due are paid in full

I have worked for four years at a school and my employer wants me to sign a document saying that I will receive half of my July-August salary in July and my gratuity at the end of August.

They are processing my visa cancellation in June and I will have to hand over all school equipment before the school year finishes. This means that when I leave the country, I will have handed over the apartment and school equipment. However, my gratuity is only paid at the end of August. Is this normal?

When I asked the question, I was told that my contract would end in August but yet they are cancelling my visa in June. AT, Dubai

I understand that this query relates to a private school. I have seen a few similar questions and it can be a complex situation when a teacher leaves a job and the country. Strictly speaking, a visa should remain valid until such time as the contract ends by mutual agreement and until dues are paid in full.

Many schools seem to operate a system in which they cancel visas sooner if the employee is leaving the country, with the gratuity and any other benefit paid at a later date. This is not quite in the spirit of the law but it is a matter of practice.

When a visa is to be cancelled, the employee must sign paperwork to state that they have received all benefits that are due to them. If they have not been paid, the employee is putting themselves in a difficult position if they want to make a case against the employer.

While a complaint can be made to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, the chances of a successful outcome are much lower in such cases.

If accommodation is provided as part of an employment contract, access to this should continue for up to 30 days after the end of service. This is covered in Article 131 of the UAE Labour Law, which says: “In the event where the employer provides the worker with accommodation, the worker shall vacate the accommodation within 30 days from the date of termination of the employment thereof.”

It is unlikely that larger schools will change this practice, so it is vitally important that any teacher in this situation obtains written confirmation of the date and amount of gratuity and any other payment due, on a company letterhead that is signed and stamped.

It is unreasonable to expect employees to wait for payment after visa cancellation and this can only be in the employer’s favour. However, employees can take steps to protect themselves.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with more than 25 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