'My company sacked me for a leaked screenshot of my work computer'

The employee suspects a colleague is responsible for the confidentiality breach and wants their job back

Under the UAE Labour Law, an employer can terminate an employee without notice if they are found to have leaked sensitive company information to a third party. Getty

My company terminated me because a picture of my work computer screen was leaked. It happened at a cafe, when I briefly left the screen unlocked to buy some refreshments. I suspect a colleague, who was at the cafe at the same time, took the screenshot of an internal notification on my computer and sent it to others.

Do I have any legal recourse against the company to either reinstate me or rescind the termination? AM, Dubai

Due to the nature of this inquiry, I sought advice from Thenji Moyo, a Dubai-based legal director at Gateley UK.

“All employees working under an employment relationship governed by the UAE Labour Law owe a duty of confidentiality to their employer. In circumstances where sensitive company information is leaked to a third party, the employer can deem such action as misconduct, that is, breach of confidentiality. Under Article 120 of the UAE Labour Law, an employer can terminate an employee without notice or end-of-service gratuity in circumstances where an employee is found to have disclosed or leaked sensitive company information to a third party,” Ms Moyo said.

“Prior to any such termination, the employer must instigate a formal disciplinary process in order to fully investigate the manner in which the sensitive data was leaked and assess whether the employee's conduct contributed to the dissemination of the data. Where there is a breach of trust and confidence due to such leakage, it is unlikely that the employer would reinstate or rescind the termination.”

This demonstrates that extra care must be taken when working away from your place of work as company information should remain private at all times.

I came to Dubai from Nigeria on a 90-day tourist visa. I received admission to a training institute in the UAE to undergo a two-month programme, which I have completed and am now a certified nursing assistant. Am I able to find a job in the UAE with my tourist visa? SU, Dubai

Visitors to the UAE can look for employment while they are on a tourist visa. But before they start working, the employer must apply for a residency visa and a work permit. A brief medical assessment must also be undertaken.

It is illegal to work on a tourist visa but any decent company will know this and arrange a proper visa from the very start, as is the standard practice in the UAE.

Congratulations on your qualification and good luck in finding a job.

I started a new job in October 2021. All visa formalities were completed and my status was updated. The company did not ask me to work in the office due to Covid-19 restrictions, so I was working from home.

On November 5, they asked me to join the office. At the end of the month, they did not pay my salary of Dh6,300 as stated in my contract. When I asked for my salary, there was no response from management.

On November 28, the manager asked me to stop coming to office as my position was being made redundant due to a restructuring of the company. No written notice was given to me.

I am still on probation. What are my rights? GD, Abu Dhabi

GD works for a mainland employer on an unlimited employment contract, so the UAE Labour Law applies in full.

An employer should never withhold a salary payment and GD should be paid in full from the date he started work to his last day with the company.

Generally, if any employee is terminated, they should be given proper notification in writing, not only verbal notice. Typically, a valid and specific reason should also be given, although this is not required during probation.

As GD is still on probation, no notice is required for termination as per Article 120 of the Labour Law, which states: “The employer may dismiss the worker without prior notice in any of the following cases: b – Should the worker be appointed under probation, and the dismissal occur during or at the end of the probation period.”

In this situation, GD should be given written notice of his termination and must also be paid in full until the last working day.

For his visa and work permit to be cancelled, he will be asked to sign cancellation papers, which will state that all money due has been paid in full. This should not be signed until the final salary is paid.

If the employer fails to pay what is due in a prompt manner, GD can register a case against the company with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, either by telephone on 800 60 or via their online chat function.

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: December 11, 2021, 5:00 AM
EDITOR'S PICKS