‘Has the employee probation period changed under the UAE's new Labour Law?’

An employer must give all employees on probation 14 days' notice of termination

Termination of employment document
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We are hiring a few new employees this month. We know that there are changes in the UAE labour law regarding the probation period, can you explain what they are? MG, Abu Dhabi

The new Labour Law, which came into effect on February 2, has made a number of changes about the probation period and all employers and employees should be aware of these.

Previously, the old Labour Law stated that the maximum probation period was six months and this remains unchanged. Employees on probation could be also terminated without notice under the previous law but this is no longer the case. Under the new law, all employees on probation must be given 14 days’ notice of termination by the employer.

The situation is slightly different for employees who wish to leave. All employees who are on probation must give formal notice if they end their employment with a company. The exact number of days depends on their intentions.

If the employee intends to leave the UAE, they are required to provide notice of 14 days. If the employee is moving to a new job within the country, they are required to give 30 days' notice.

If an employee moves to a new company within the probation period, the new employer is obliged to compensate the previous employer for costs incurred in employing them, such as visa fees.

It should be noted that if an employee says that they intend to leave the UAE but then returns within three months to start new employment, the new employer has to pay the previous employer for the costs incurred, just as if the new employment was continuous.

I am in the UAE on a visit visa. I lived here previously, so I have a UAE driving licence. However, I lost it. How can I get a replacement licence because it is still valid? Will I get into trouble with the police? HI, Dubai

There are no legal issues if someone loses a driving licence but it must be replaced as soon as possible
Keren Bobker, senior partner, Holborn Assets

There are no legal issues if someone loses a driving licence but it must be replaced as soon as possible.

It is a relatively simple process to replace a lost driving licence, although this can be done only by people on a UAE residence visa.

HI cannot request a replacement licence until he has a new job and the visa and Emirates ID have been issued. But he can confirm to an employer that he has a driving licence that can be reinstated following his formal employment in the UAE.

The exact procedure and point of contact varies between emirates, but if HI obtains a new job with a Dubai visa, he will need to contact the Roads and Transport Authority and apply for a replacement.

The charge is Dh300 in addition to a knowledge and innovation fee of Dh20. The reissuance of a licence takes only a few days.

Should I pay for my visa expenses because I cancelled it early? I have read your previous columns that state it is illegal. However, I just found out that I am on a free zone visa. I have no idea who to contact or what law applies to me.

My employer told me that my visa is under the authority of Dubai, but they didn’t give me a clear answer on whether I should pay for visa cancellation. NA, Dubai

NA resigned before the new Labour Law came into force on February 2, but this situation remains unchanged. No employer can ask an employee to pay for the costs that it incurs when employing them, whether they are visa or work permit charges, or recruitment fees.

There have been several government announcements to this effect and it is included 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.”

This rule applies whether a person is employed by a mainland employer or in a free zone.

After the change in the employment laws, nearly all free zones, apart from Dubai International Financial Centre and Abu Dhabi Global Market, will follow the new Labour Law.

This applies to NA’s employer and also all other private companies. She is not liable to pay for visa costs and can show this information to the employer.

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 22, 2023, 9:42 AM