'Can my company deduct visa costs from my salary?'

It is illegal for employers to charge workers for their work permits and the issue should be reported to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation

Under the UAE's labour law, employers must bear the cost of visas and residency renewals. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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I am seeking advice regarding my visa and residency renewal charges, which are deducted by my employer from my salary. They do this to everyone but I have read that it is not allowed. I am working for a private company in Abu Dhabi. NK, Abu Dhabi

The actions of this employer are against the law and this has always been the case. It is also clearly stated in the new labour law.

Article 6 of the law, which covers the recruitment and employment of workers, says: “The employer is prohibited from charging the worker for the fees and costs of recruitment and employment or collecting them from him, whether directly or indirectly.”

This topic has also been covered in several ministerial decrees but the new law makes the situation very clear.

An employer also cannot include a clause in an employment contract that states that visa costs and residency renewal charges will be passed on to the employee.

It is illegal and will not be permitted in the official contract that is lodged with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

If an employer illegally charges this cost to workers, they can register a complaint against the company and request a refund via the ministry, either through a chat line on its website or by telephone on 800 665.

I joined my current employer on August 15, 2017, and plan to resign this summer. I believe the end-of-service benefit rises incrementally once that five-year threshold is crossed. I have heard that being on notice can negate registered service but there is a lot of conflicting information.

When is the optimum time to hand in my notice, after August 15 or a month beforehand? SV, Dubai

When the gratuity payment is calculated, it must cover the full period of service with an employer and that includes the notice period. The only exception is stated in Article 51.4, which says that any “unpaid days of absence from work shall not be included in the calculation of the service term”.

Under the old labour law, the gratuity was reduced if an employee resigned with fewer than five years of service but this is no longer the case.

When the new labour law came into effect last month, the rules changed. Anyone who has worked for more than a full calendar year is entitled to the end-of-service payment in full, without any deduction for resigning.

Quote
Should SV be employed by this company for more than five full years, only his basic income after the first five years is payable at the higher rate
Keren Bobker, senior partner at Holborn Assets

The entitlement is stated in Article 51 of the law: “2. The full-time foreign worker, who completed a year or more in continuous service, shall be entitled to end-of-service benefits at the end of his service, calculated according to the basic wage as per the following: a. A wage of (21) twenty-one days for each year of the first five years of service; b. A wage of (30) thirty days for each year exceeding such period. 3. The foreign worker shall be entitled to a benefit for parts of the year in proportion to the period spent at work, provided that he completed one year of continuous service.”

Should SV be employed by this company for more than five full years, only his basic income after the first five years is payable at the higher rate.

I have problem with my company, which terminated me by saying “probation failed”. I want to know what my rights are and if there is anything I can do about it. JW, Sharjah

A probation period is essentially a legal trial period and it allows either the employer or the employee to cancel the agreement without serious consequences. If the employer does not wish to retain an individual, they can terminate their employment without giving a reason.

Article 9.4 of the labour law states: “The employer may terminate the service of the worker during this period after notifying the latter of the same in writing fourteen (14) days at least before the date specified for the termination of service.”

The change in the new labour law means that the employer must now give notice of termination to the employee during the probation period, which was not the case previously. The employee must be paid in full for the time worked and during the 14-day notice period as well.

If an employer fails to give notice, “it shall pay to the other party compensation equal to the worker’s wages for the notice period or the remaining period of the notice period”, Article 9.5 of the labour law says.

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: March 20, 2022, 5:00 AM
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