‘Can I take paid sick leave during my probation?’

Employees are not legally entitled to be paid if they are unwell during probation but it is at the employer’s discretion

Some companies will pay an employee's salary for a few days of proven illness during probation, but this is entirely at the employer’s discretion. Getty Images
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I started my job in April but I was sick with tonsillitis last week and could not go to work. I took three days off, went to a clinic and got a sick leave certificate. However, my manager said that I will not be paid for these days. He said the company does not pay for any sick leave during the probation period.

Is this legal, because I notified my employer and also produced a doctor’s certificate? There was no way I could have done my job while being ill. JA, Abu Dhabi

JA has been in her job for less than four months and has a six-month probation period. The issue of pay during sick leave is covered in Article 83 of the UAE Labour Law, which states: “The worker shall not be entitled to any paid sick leave during the probation period.”

The employer is correct that they do not have to pay an employee when they are off work due to ill health during their probationary period. This should be stated in the contract of employment. Some companies will pay an employee's salary for a few days of proven illness, but this is entirely at the employer’s discretion.

I worked for a company operating in the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre free zone for four years. The company terminated me and paid my end-of-service gratuity by calculating 14 days of pay per year instead of 21 days.

Because my family wanted to travel to our home country urgently, I hurried to cancel the employment visa. The visa is now cancelled and I have a new job. Is it possible to file a case against my previous employer to receive my correct end-of-service benefits? RG, Dubai

RG is correct in saying that he should have received a higher end-of-service benefit payment. DMCC complies with the UAE Labour Law and Article 132 applies.

This law states: “The worker having spent one year or more in continuous service shall be entitled to an end-of-service gratuity upon the termination of his service. The days of absence from work without pay shall not be included in the calculation of the period of service, and the gratuity shall be calculated as follows: 1) The wage of 21 days for each of the first five years of service …”

Ideally, any errors in gratuity calculation should be pointed out at the time of leaving service
Keren Bobker, Holborn Assets

The amount payable should be reduced to 14 days only if the employee resigns with less than five years of service, which is not the case here.

I asked Thenji Moyo, legal director and head of employment for Gateley UK in Dubai, for her advice on what action can be taken.

She said: “Our recommendation would be for the employee to first contact their former employer to put them on notice of the shortfall in the end-of-service gratuity payout. Should the employee fail to reach an agreement with the employer post notification, he/she is in a position to file a workplace mediation request at the DMCC regarding their claim, irrespective of whether or not the employee has cancelled their visa.

“The DMCC has specialist certified mediators who will then seek to resolve the matter amicably. Should the parties still fail to reach an agreement, the DMCC will issue the employee with a no objection certificate for the employee to pursue and file a claim at the labour court. It is important for the employee to know that the claim can only be filed in the labour courts within one year of termination.”

Ideally, any errors in gratuity calculation should be pointed out at the time of leaving service. I do not recommend signing paperwork agreeing to an incorrect payment as this complicates matters.

I plan to come to Dubai on a visit visa to find a job when flights resume from Pakistan. I recently obtained an international driving licence from Pakistan, which is valid for one year. Will I be able to drive a car in the UAE with this licence? AR, Pakistan

For visitors to the UAE, rental companies accept most foreign driving licences along with an International Driving Permit. However, as soon as the visitor becomes a UAE resident, they must legally convert it to a UAE driving licence.

Only citizens from certain countries with home country licences are able to exchange it to a UAE driving licence. Pakistan is not on the list of countries for a licence transfer, so AR will have to undergo training from an approved driving school and pass both a practical and theory test before being issued with a valid driving licence.

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

Updated: June 23, 2023, 2:50 PM