I have resigned from my job and my visa will be cancelled in two weeks, when my last salary is paid. I do not have any loans or outstanding credit card debt in the UAE, but have some money saved in a local bank. Will my bank account be frozen or is it safe to leave my savings in it? RD, Dubai
When a bank is notified of a final salary payment or the cancellation of a work visa, their automatic reaction is often to freeze all accounts. This is not always the case but it should be expected.
However, if a person has no debt, the account should be unfrozen quite quickly. The bank may block further use of a credit card if they are aware that there will be no income to support any borrowing.
If an account is frozen, it can take a few days to unfreeze it. If RD thinks this could be an issue, it would be wise to withdraw funds to tide them over until they have access to the account again.
If I resign from my job, do I have to pay a certain amount to my employer? My visa was issued seven months ago. My contract is unlimited. JM, Abu Dhabi
If an employee is on an unlimited employment contract, they do not have to pay any money to an employer when they leave the company. They only need to give notice in accordance with the contract, which is usually a minimum of 30 days as per the UAE Labour Law.
As JM has been with this employer for less than one year, she is not entitled to receive any gratuity but should be paid for any days of annual leave that she has accrued but not taken.
I am facing an issue with my employer. The human resources manager asked me to pay for my visa expenses and serve one month’s notice if I want to leave the job. However, I want to leave the job immediately.
Is it possible for me to leave without serving a notice? How would that affect me? AB, Dubai
It is understood that AB works for a mainland company or a free zone that has adopted the UAE Labour Law. There are two issues to address here.
No employer should ever ask an employee to repay any cost incurred with their employment. I would expect anyone in an HR role to know that this is not permitted.
This is covered in Ministerial Order 52 of 1989, Article 6a, which states: “An undertaking from the employer to the effect that he shall sponsor and be responsible for the recruited labourer, the bearing of his recruitment expenses and his employment in accordance with the employment contract in a way not prejudicing the provision of the Federal Law No (8)/1980 referred to herein.”
Furthermore, these expenses cannot be passed on. This is the case, no matter how long an employee has been in a job.
If an employer insists on payment, which is illegal under UAE law, the employee can register a case with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.
Under Article 117 of the Labour Law, AB is required to give a minimum notice period of 30 days and needs to give this notice in writing to her employer.
The only exception is if the employer breaches the terms of employment in a serious way or assaults the employee according to Article 121. Such cases are rare and often hard to prove.
An employee cannot simply walk out of a job but if they do so, there will be consequences. The employer can request an employment ban, which will prevent the person from taking on a new job.
In addition, Article 119 of the Labour Law states: “Should the employer or worker fail to notify the other party of the termination of the contract … the notifying party shall pay to the other party a compensation in lieu of notice, even if such failure to notice or such reduction of the period does not cause damage to the other party. Such compensation shall be equal to the wage of the worker with regards to the entire notice period or the reduced part thereof. The compensation in lieu of notice shall be calculated on the basis of the last wage paid to the worker.”
This means that the employee can end up paying the employer to compensate them for the inconvenience of breaching the agreed contract terms, as well as receive a ban. It is always better to give notice as agreed.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with more than 25 years’ experience. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE
The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only