‘Can my employer deny me paid sick leave?’

Once an employee completes their probationary period, they are entitled to paid time off when they are unwell

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I have been with my current employer for more than five years and have only taken six days off work because I was ill.

A few weeks ago, I had to have an operation and this meant that I had to take 10 days off work to recuperate, as instructed by my surgeon.

My boss now says that my time away from the store was inconvenient to him, although I gave him plenty of notice. He said he would not pay me for the days I took off, even though I was in the hospital and unable to do any work.

This seems very unfair. I would like to know where I stand regarding the law. RS, Abu Dhabi

New UAE labour laws come into effect

New UAE labour laws come into effect

Once an employee has passed their probationary period, they are entitled to paid sick leave, provided that it is reported to the employer within a period of three days.

They can also be asked to provide a medical certificate to prove that they are unfit to work. All licensed hospitals and clinics, both government and private, can provide this document and the standard cost is Dh70.

The conditions that apply are set out in Article 31 of the new labour law, although they are unchanged from the previous law.

“After the end of the probationary period, the worker may be entitled to a sick leave of not more than 90 continuous or intermittent days per year, provided that it is calculated as follows: a. The first 15 days with full pay; b. The following 30 days with half pay,” the law states.

Note that this is the minimum paid leave and any employer can exceed this should they wish to do so.

In this situation, RS is entitled to full pay for the time he had to take off work for both his operation and recuperation.

It is unfair of an employer to attempt to refuse to pay a member of staff in this situation, especially considering his past attendance record.

If an employer does not pay an employee in line with the requirements set out in the law, the employee can register a case against them with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation on its website. Alternatively, the ministry can be contacted through its app or by calling 600 590000.

I have a bank loan with an outstanding balance of Dh143,000. The project I am working on is nearly finished and there is a good chance that I will be terminated in a few months.

Due to family reasons, I can't continue working abroad. I might receive an end-of-service benefit of Dh35,000, but I will still owe more than Dh100,000 to the bank.

What can I do as I will not be able to afford the repayments if I am terminated? MA, Dubai

When someone borrows money from a bank, they sign a legal undertaking to repay the money by way of monthly instalments.

If someone does not pay what they agreed to, they are in breach of the terms of the loan and the bank has the right to take action to recover the money that has been borrowed. This still applies in the case of redundancy.

If MA is terminated, or leaves their current employment, the last payment that the employer makes to him will be marked as “final salary” when transferred to his bank.

I assume that this is the same bank where he borrowed the money from, so they will be aware of the situation.

Given the amount outstanding, the bank is most likely to freeze the account. If they have concerns about MA failing to make further payments, they can make an application to the local court to request a travel ban. Note that a bank cannot do this with court approval.

If MA intends to leave the UAE, he is still legally and morally responsible to repay the money that he has borrowed.

If a bank has concerns about a customer failing to make loan payments, they can make an application to the local court to request a travel ban
Keren Bobker, senior partner at Holborn Assets

He can make loan repayments from outside the UAE. If he is unable to make the full payments, even paying a smaller amount each month is better than paying nothing.

Unless he continues with payments or reaches an agreement with the bank to continue making smaller payments, the bank could file a police case against him, which will mean that he could face issues if he travels back to the UAE.

If MA stays in the UAE but still cannot afford the full repayments, he can also look into applying for personal insolvency via Dubai Court. They will work with him and the bank to manage the debt.

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: July 24, 2022, 5:00 AM