'Can I take legal action against an ex-employer for not paying my salary?'

The Sharjah resident is seeking advice after being told to sign a document that falsely claimed he had received $11,164 in cash

A UAE resident found a new job after not being paid for five months. Silvia Razgova / The National
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I worked for a construction company for 18 months but did not get paid for five months or receive my gratuity. I am owed Dh41,000 ($11,164). Because of this, I decided to leave and found another job.

The company asked me to sign a document/cash voucher saying that I had received all the money owed to me in cash. They also told me that this was needed to cancel my visa. I signed it but they still have not paid me anything.

Is it possible to take legal action or is it too late as I have signed a document that says I received the money?

I didn’t feel I had a choice at the time. Is there anything I can do? RN, Sharjah

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Watch: New UAE labour laws come into effect

As I have said in this column many times over the years, no one should ever sign end-of-service paperwork to cancel a visa without having been paid all money due to them.

Sadly, it is all too common for employers to try to force employees to do this in the expectation that they will somehow get out of paying them.

This situation is even worse as the paperwork states that payment was in cash, rather than transferred to a bank account as it should have been. This significantly weakens an employee’s claim for non-payment.

The first step is to register a case against the employer with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. The case is then expected to be referred to the Court of First Instance.

While it is not essential that RN has a lawyer, it would be helpful to have legal representation to assist with trying to prove that no payment has been made in cash.

There is no guarantee that RN will win the case but, considering the significant sum involved, I do recommend that he takes action, not least to prevent the employer from behaving in this illegal manner again.

I am working as a nanny/maid for a family and have been with them for about two years now. The situation is OK but recently I was unwell for a few days and unable to work. It was not possible to look after two small children when I was so ill. This is the only illness I have had since I started the job.

My employer is not happy about this and she has said that I won’t be paid if I don’t work. What are my rights as I need all my pay to send to my family in Kenya? HN, Abu Dhabi

There are laws to protect all employees in the UAE and this also applies to domestic workers.

The relevant law was recently updated as Federal Decree Law No 9 of 2022 Concerning Domestic Workers. In recent years, the law pertaining to domestic staff has become more closely aligned with the UAE's labour law.

Article 9.6 of this law states: “Domestic workers are entitled to a sick leave of 30 days for each year of service, either continuous or intermittent, which may be availed whenever a medical report issued by an approved health authority demonstrates that the worker is in need of such leave, calculated in the following manner: a. The first fifteen days are paid in full. b. The next thirty days at half pay.”

An employer does not need to see a medical certificate if they can clearly see that the employee is unwell, but they have the right to request one. They are available from most clinics.

The only caveat to the right to payment is covered in Article 9.7 of the law, which says: “If the domestic worker's behaviour contributed to the illness, no payment will be made during sick leave.”

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There are laws to protect all employees in the UAE and this also applies to domestic workers.
Keren Bobker

I seem to have lost my Emirates identity card. I have a copy of it but I need to obtain another one. Is there a way of doing this without going to my employer or having them find out as they get cross about these things? Do I have to go to the police? DP, Dubai

DP does not need to go to the police and it is not a problem to replace a lost identity card, although action should be taken promptly. There is no need for an employer to know about it, either.

It is a straightforward process and anyone can visit a Customer Happiness Centre to request a card in person. It is also possible to apply online via the ICA smart app, which was set up by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship.

Documents required are a copy of the ID card, passport and residency visa. It usually takes five working days for the new card to be issued.

The cost of the card is Dh300 with an administration fee of Dh40 or Dh70, depending on the method used.

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: October 23, 2022, 5:00 AM