'Can I resign from my job during probation under the new UAE Labour Law?'

The employee faces an employment ban as the changes to the law do not come into effect until February next year

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: N/A. Stock. A UAE visa in a passport. Monday, August 31st, 2020. Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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How can I resign from a company during my probation period under the UAE's new Labour Law? I want to ensure that I do not receive a ban and can accept a job with another employer. At present, my visa profession is skill level 5. My probation period is six months, which I will complete in the middle of March next year. AS, Abu Dhabi

There has been a recent announcement, Federal Decree – Law 33 of 2021, about changes to the UAE Labour Law but this is not due to come into effect until February 2, 2022, with final confirmation of the executive regulations being prepared and still to be issued. Until this time, the current rules apply.

At the present time, all employees, whether on probation or permanent, must provide 30 days’ notice when resigning as per Article 117 of the Labour Law, which states: “The employer and the worker may terminate the employment contract with undetermined term for valid grounds at any time subsequent to the conclusion of the contract, and such after notifying the other party thereof in writing at least 30 days prior to the termination thereof.”

This is generally also the case for fixed-term contracts, although other restrictions will apply.

Should AS resign with less than a year of service, the employer can apply for an employment ban as his visa is for skill level 5, the lowest level.

Once the new rules come into effect next year, the situation will be different and will depend on the reason for an employee wanting to leave service during a probation period and also whether they want to change employers or to leave the country.

If AS wishes to change employers after the changes come into effect, he will still need to give 30 days’ notice but his new employer will be required to compensate the previous company for costs incurred in employing him, such as visa fees or any recruitment fees.

The proposed new legislation is intended to make it easier for employees to change jobs without disadvantaging employers. While it will prevent employers from forcing people to leave the country, there is no specific mention of whether there will be any change in employment bans.

I am facing some issues with my previous company. They are delaying the cancellation of my visa and the company I need to join is saying it cannot wait any longer. What can I do? IC, Sharjah

When an employee resigns and has completed their notice period, the employer should cancel their visa and work permit at the time the person stops working for them. No employer should delay cancellation.

If the company fails to act promptly, employees can contact the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation on their helpline number, 800 665, or via the online chat function on its website.

If an employer does not come under the jurisdiction of the ministry, which covers all mainland employers and many of the free zones, the employee can contact the dispute centre of the free zone for assistance.

I came to Dubai on a visit visa and 10 days later I joined a five-star hotel as a waiter. They are applying for a free zone employment visa for me. I have now resigned as my wife had an accident and I need to go back to India but the company has said that if it cancels my visa, I will be banned from working in the UAE. I only worked for two days and have not had the visa medical test. Is it possible for the company to ban me in this situation? AB, Dubai

Firstly, I am sorry to read about your wife and hope she recovers soon.

If someone has not undergone a medical examination, they do not have a UAE residence visa or a work permit. Without these, they are not officially an employee of a company and the employer is not able to request an employment ban.

AB has stated that the application is for a visa in a free zone, which is irregular as nearly all hotels in Dubai have mainland licences.

If this is the case, he can check with the free zone itself to confirm whether a visa is in process. It is worth noting that a ban is not relevant should he return for another job in the same free zone.

The proposed new legislation is intended to make it easer for employees to change jobs without disadvantaging employers
Keren Bobker

If this hotel has a mainland licence, which is far more likely for a five-star venue, then the visa is under the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and AB can check with them.

Given the circumstances, this seems a rather mean threat from the company and while it may be inconvenient, it would be nice if some humanity prevailed.

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: June 23, 2023, 4:47 PM