'Can a new employer withhold a written job offer until a visa is cancelled?'

A company could renege on a verbal promise of employment unless the offer is in writing

Two people are standing at a table, across from each other. Their hands grasp each others in a firm handshake. On the table sits a contract of employment. Getty Images
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I’m a resident of Dubai and currently work for a mainland company on an unlimited contract. I have an unofficial job offer from another mainland company. I want to move to this new company as the pay and corporate environment are better.

I have a personal loan with a UAE bank. I have been regularly paying the loan instalments in full and never fallen short or delayed payments. I also have credit cards with the same bank and always pay in full before the due date.

My concern is that the new company is not willing to make an official employment offer unless my current visa is cancelled. Will my visa cancellation be halted because of my bank loan? RS, Dubai

It is unusual for an employer to expect an individual to have already left a job and be without a residency visa before formally offering them employment. That sets off alarm bells.

It is unreasonable to expect an individual to take such a step before even offering them a job. Unless the offer is in writing, there is no proof and the company could renege on any verbal promise.

It is normal practice for a company to offer an employment letter that details the terms and salary of the job in writing. If the employee accepts the written offer, they then resign and serve out their notice with their current employer.

This gives the individual some guarantee of employment, knowing that they will have a new job to go to. I am concerned that RS could find himself without a job in a situation like this.

In respect of RS's loans and credit cards, as the payments are up to date, the existence of these debts is no reason to prevent the cancellation of a visa.

However, it is important to note that, once a bank is made aware that an account holder is leaving their job, their last salary payment will be marked "final salary" and the account is likely to be frozen until they start a new position or can provide proof of having a new job, such as a signed employment contract or the new residency visa.

Depending on the terms of RS's loan agreement, the bank may use his final salary payment, which will include any end-of-service gratuity, to offset his debts.

I started a job in May this year and was told that my probation period could be for up to six months.

I have now been told that as my direct boss will be on maternity leave in October and November, no decision will be made about making my role permanent until she is back at work.

Is the company allowed to do this? Can they extend my probation period even though my contract states six months? JE, Al Ain

The worker may be employed for a probation period not exceeding six months
Article 37 of the UAE Labour Law

JE works for a mainland employer, so the UAE Labour Law applies. Most free zones have also adopted the same provisions.

Article 37 of the Labour Law states: “The worker may be employed for a probation period not exceeding six months where the employer may terminate the services of the worker without notification or end-of-service gratuity. The worker may not be employed by the same employer for more than one probation period. Should the worker successfully complete the probation period and pursues his job, the said period shall be deemed as part of the service period.”

This means that once JE has completed six months’ service, if the employer does not terminate her, she will automatically be considered a permanent employee and will be entitled to the benefits and legal protections afforded to all permanent employees under UAE law. The employer cannot make any changes to the law.

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: September 18, 2021, 5:00 AM