'Will I have an employment ban after absconding from the UAE in 2013?'

The former resident is planning to return to Dubai to find a job after taking emergency leave eight years ago

An immigration official checks documents of passenger at Dubai Airport. WAM
Powered by automated translation

I joined a company in Dubai in 2013 but after getting my employment visa stamped, I took emergency leave to my home country. Because of family issues, I didn't go back to Dubai. However, I am now planning to return to Dubai and look for a job. Will I be allowed to enter or do I face an employment ban? AK, India

Anyone who goes on annual leave and fails to return to the UAE is considered an absconder. The employer will take action against them, not least for the inconvenience caused.

This is covered in Article 128 of the UAE Labour Law, which states: “Should the non-national worker leave work without a valid cause before the end of the contract with definite term, he may not get another employment even with the permission of the employer for a year from the date of abandonment of the work. No employer may knowingly recruit the worker or retain his service during such period.”

If an employee leaves without giving notice, or simply fails to return to work, the employer can apply for an absconding ban and that will usually be for one year. In some cases, however, an individual can be blacklisted.

AK will need to check that he is not banned from entering the UAE, although it is doubtful that is the case considering the amount of time that has elapsed. If he still has his Emirates identity card number, he can check the Dubai Police website or app. Note that this is for Dubai visa holders only.

If he does not have an ID number, he will need to contact the General Directorate of Residents and Foreigners Affairs, which has a main office in each emirate. The Dubai website gives multiple options for making contact.

I am employed on an unlimited contract with a private company and am still on probation. I have received a job offer from another employer, which I plan to accept, as it offers significantly higher benefits compared with my existing salary.

My contract says that I have to serve a notice period of 30 days. If I want to stop working before the end of the notice period, will I have to compensate my employer with one month's salary?

My current employer's job offer letter had a condition stating that if I decide to resign during the probation period, I will have to pay for visa administration charges. Is this a legal condition? SB, Abu Dhabi

All employees, both permanent and on probation, are obliged to provide 30 days’ notice if they wish to resign.

This is stated in Article 117 of the UAE Labour Law: “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 before the termination thereof.”

Potentially, an employer can permit an employee to leave sooner but this should be with the agreement of both parties
Keren Bobker

Potentially, an employer can permit an employee to leave sooner but this should be with the agreement of both parties.

The employer can apply Article 119 of the Labour Law to this situation, which states: “Should the employer or worker fail to notify the other party of the termination of the contract, or should such party reduce the notice period, the notifying party shall pay to the other party a compensation known as compensation in lieu of notice, even if such failure to notice or such reduction of the period does not cause damage to the other party. Such compensation shall be equal to the wage of the worker with regards to the entire notice period or the reduced part thereof.”

If the employer agrees to this, SB may have to compensate the company for the total amount of days he does not work during the 30-day notice period.

In answer to the second query regarding the employer seeking financial compensation for visa costs, this is an illegal clause in the contract and is not enforceable under UAE employment law.

The law is clear that it is the responsibility of the employer to arrange and pay for a visa and work permit. An employer is not permitted to pass on any costs of employing an individual.

There are far too many cases where an employer issues a contract saying the employee is liable for costs but this will not be in the official contract that is lodged with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) and a case can be registered against the employer if they demand payment.

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 18, 2021, 5:00 AM