'Can I go to my home country if I am on medical leave?'

A company is unlikely to be happy about an employee travelling if they are supposed to be unwell

UAE companies have the right to ask employees to have a medical examination to verify their illness. Getty
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

If an employee has to undergo an operation or medical procedures and has a medical certificate for sick leave from a doctor, can the sick leave be taken outside of the UAE?

The certificate is for 15 days off work and I would like to spend the time in my home country. JG, Dubai

If an employee is given a medical certificate to take time off work due to ill health or to recuperate, it is fair to assume that they are unfit to work. Furthermore, it is reasonable to assume that if they are unfit for work for physical reasons, then they are not fit to travel.

An employee does not require permission from their employer to travel outside of the UAE but, in a situation such as this, an employer is unlikely to be happy about the employee travelling if they are supposed to be unwell and recuperating.

Companies have a right to ask employees to have a medical examination to verify their illness, and whether the leave is genuine and necessary.

If the outcome is that the employee was fit to work, the employer can decide that the person is not eligible for sick pay and can withhold payment.

I would like to know if there is a minimum wage for employees in the UAE. The sister of one of our staff is paid a really low amount, not really enough to live on, and I would like to help her as it does not seem right. JP, Abu Dhabi

There is no legal minimum wage in the UAE for foreign workers. The only mention of any minimum limits in the UAE Labour Law is in Article 63, which states: “By virtue of a decree-law issued upon the proposal of the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs and the consent of the Cabinet, the minimum wage and cost-of-living index shall be determined either in general or for a particular area or a particular profession.

"The minister shall submit his proposal to determine or reconsider the minimum wages upon the consultation of the competent authorities and the professional entities of the employers and workers, if any, and based on the studies and tables of fluctuation of the cost of living set by the competent authorities in the state, in view of ensuring that the minimum limits are sufficient to fulfil the basic requirements of the workers and guarantee the livelihood thereof,” it says.

This means that salaries should cover the basic needs of the employee, so is open to interpretation but it is expected to be a sufficient amount.

If the outcome is that the employee was fit to work, the employer can decide that the person is not eligible for sick pay and can withhold payment
Keren Bobker

I was employed by a company for one year and three months and last month, I was wrongly accused by my roommate after we had a physical argument and I was reported to management.

I was served a termination letter without any warnings. I have never been rude to anyone else or had a problem before.

I had to sign the termination letter and when I asked for my end-of-service benefits, they refused to give me any compensation. Is this legal? EC, Abu Dhabi

There are a number of situations, outside of a probationary period, where an employee can be terminated without notice.

These are listed in Article 120 of the UAE Labour Law, which says: “The employer may dismiss the worker without prior notice in any of the following cases … (i) Should he assault during the work the employee, responsible manager or co-worker.”

In such a situation, no written warnings are required. An employee terminated for this conduct has no option but to agree unless they wish to raise a case with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation for unfair termination but it is unlikely to be upheld.

If an employee is terminated for this reason, they should be paid in full for all days worked and any days of annual leave accrued but not taken, but are no longer entitled to a gratuity.

Article 139 confirms this: “The worker shall be deprived of his end-of-service gratuity in the following two cases: (a) should he be dismissed from service for any of the reasons set forth in Article 120 hereof or should he leave his employment in view of avoiding the dismissal therefrom in accordance with the said article …

In this situation, the employer has acted correctly and in accordance with UAE 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: October 30, 2021, 5:00 AM