‘Do I have to compensate my employer for my visa if I quit during probation?’

The Abu Dhabi resident is considering leaving their job even though they are on a six-month probation period

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , July 21 – 2020 :- People wearing protective face mask and waiting for their turn for the medical test for the visa renewal at the Medical Examination Center for Residency at Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai.  (Pawan Singh / The National) For News/Standalone/Online/Stock
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Am I supposed to pay my company compensation for my visa if I quit the job before completing six months? HA, Abu Dhabi

This topic has been covered in this column many times. It is disappointing that some employers continue to try to break the law.

The UAE Labour Law is very clear: it is the employer’s responsibility to arrange an employment visa and work permit and also to pay for them. This applies to both mainland employers and all free zones.

An employer is not permitted to pass on any costs of employing an individual. The UAE authorities have made this clear many times.

This issue 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.

There are cases where an employer makes the employee sign a contract saying they will repay costs. But this will not be in the official labour contract and is an illegal and unenforceable clause.

Any employee who is asked to pay visa costs should cite the law and then escalate the issue either to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation if it is a mainland employer, or to the dispute centre in a free zone.

HA should also be aware that even if he is in a probation period, he must still give notice of resignation in accordance with his contract. This is usually 30 days.

Even if an employee is in a probation period, he must still give notice of resignation in accordance with his contract
Keren Bobker, senior partner, Holborn Assets

My previous employer always gave staff a holiday on Christmas Day and Boxing Day (December 25 and 26). This year Christmas Day falls on a Saturday.

I thought we would at least get a holiday on December 26 and the people who work on Saturdays would have that day off.

But we have been told that they are normal working days. Can the employer make us work on these dates? TM, Dubai

The UAE has a number of statutory public holidays as set out in Article 74 of the UAE Labour Law. Christmas Day and Boxing Day are not public holidays in the UAE, so no one has a legal right to take a day off work.

While some companies may remain closed that day, especially if they have many western employees, this is a management decision. If an employee requires time off on these dates, they will need to request annual leave in the usual way.

I have an inquiry about overstaying a visit visa. The company that employed me for eight months neither issued me an offer letter nor applied for an employment visa. What can I do? I want to stay legally in the UAE. FC, Dubai

FC has been working illegally throughout this time. The employer should have given him a proper offer of employment, a labour contract and applied for a residency visa and work permit at the outset.

As they did not, they have employed FC illegally and he is not protected by law. This means that he is unable to make a legal complaint against the company, even if they fail to pay him.

The employer will know that they can be reported for breaking the law. Any company that takes on staff without a visa can be fined up to Dh50,000 ($13,610) and face issues obtaining visas in the future.

As FC has been in the UAE without a proper visa, he is subject to overstay fines. This is Dh200 for the first day, Dh100 for each subsequent day, plus a service fee of Dh100. (Penalties are different for overstaying after a residency visa has been cancelled.) These penalties should be settled before he can be employed.

FC should visit an Amer Centre, a division of the General Directorate for Residency and Foreigners Affairs, for advice and to find out how much he owes in overstay fines.

Once the fine has been paid, FC can find a new job and be employed with a visa to stay in the UAE on a legal basis.

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: October 02, 2021, 5:00 AM