I have been offered a sales job by a real estate company, but have some concerns about what the recruiter is telling me. I was expecting a probation period, but the company has told me that they won’t apply for a residency visa for me until I am hired permanently and have reached a specific sales target. They say it is up to me to pay for a visit visa for this period, but it is OK to work as they describe it as training. Can you tell me if this is correct? TP, Dubai
The law in the UAE is very clear: to be employed, all expatriates need to have a residency visa and work permit. The visa can be obtained by the employer, or a spouse or other legal sponsor, and the employer must provide a work permit.
There are no exceptions to this, although it is understood that the requirement is to have made the formal application at the time employment starts, which allows a short grace period for the process to complete. It is not permissible to apply for a residency visa or work permit after a probationary period has ended.
The UAE government takes this issue seriously and issued Federal Decree Law No 7 in 2007, which amended the immigration law and increased the fine imposed on employers who fail to obtain proper visas and permits for staff to Dh50,000 per employee from Dh10,000. This is still in effect.
In addition to this, mainland employers can receive a further fine from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation of Dh50,000. If an employer is in a free zone, the free zone authority can levy a fine. If an employer repeats the offence, the fines can increase.
An expatriate company owner can have criminal proceedings brought against them, as well face being deported and a lifetime ban. If the owner is a UAE national, they can receive a jail sentence.
It is not just the employer who can be penalised; there are serious consequences for any individual who works without a visa and work permit. They can receive a labour ban, a substantial fine and be imprisoned for up to a month, although this can be extended.
Employers who tell new staff that they can work without a visa are breaking the law and putting both themselves and the employees at risk from fines and more.
It should also be noted that as of May 2017, all real estate agents are required to be registered with the Real Estate Regulatory Agency and undergo training for certification, which requires a residency visa and Emirates ID.
I would advise TP to avoid a company that acts in this way.
I have worked for a company for one year and seven months and my boss wants to terminate my contract. I have a limited contract with a mainland company. She said she will only give me my flight ticket to return home and will not compensate me. She also made me leave the company accommodation. US, Abu Dhabi
US’s employer is breaking multiple laws. As US is on a limited-term contract, her employer is obliged to give her notice in writing and also compensation for breaking the terms of the employment contract.
Article 115 of the UAE Labour Law states: “Should the employment contract be of a determined term, and the employer rescind same … he shall be bound to compensate the worker for the damage incurred thereto, provided that the compensation amount does not exceed in any case the total wage due for the period of three months or for the remaining period of the contract, whichever is shorter, unless otherwise stipulated in the contract.”
As US has five months left on her contract, the employer should pay compensation of three months’ salary.
If US plans to leave the UAE, the employer is correct to pay for her flight home. However, as she is in company accommodation, US is not obliged to leave the property immediately.
This is covered in a clause in Article 131 of the Labour Law: “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.”
As the employer has broken the law, I recommend that US files a case against them with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation without delay. The Ministry's helpline is 800 60. There is no cost for registering a case against an employer.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with more than 25 years’ experience. Contact her at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE
The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only