‘Does UAE law protect me from workplace bullying?’

No company should permit this behaviour and it is expressly forbidden under UAE law

An employee can escalate bullying complaints to senior management or register a case against their company with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. Alamy
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Question: I’m facing workplace bullying that includes shouting, excessive monitoring, sending my CV to other companies without my consent, discrimination in setting my key performance indicators, insults in meetings and inappropriate remarks.

I have lodged multiple complaints to human resources, even submitting details of incidents with proof, but nothing has changed and this manager seems supported.

I was recently put in a performance-improvement programme and am the only person being monitored like this.

There are several colleagues who are far behind me in terms of the sales they have made but they are not being monitored.

My manager said I had two weeks to improve or I will be terminated.

I believe I am being monitored in this way as I made a complaint about the behavioural issues and harassment from my direct manager.

I have made money for the company, more than others, so this is clearly personal. Is there any UAE law that can protect me from this? VG, Dubai

Answer: I am sorry to read that VG is having a hard time and it appears that she is being singled out for this treatment.

No employee should have to tolerate being shouted at or insulted in the workplace.

No company should permit such behaviour and it is now expressly forbidden under UAE law.

Under the new labour law, Article 14 in Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021 states: “Sexual harassment, bullying or any verbal, physical or psychological violence committed against the worker by the employer, his superiors at work, colleagues or the persons who work with him, are prohibited.”

In addition, Article 4, which is about equality and discrimination, states: “Any discrimination on the basis of race, colour, sex, religion, national or social origin or disability, which would have the effect of nullifying or impairing equality of opportunity or prejudicing equal treatment in the employment, the maintenance of a job and the enjoyment of its benefits, is prohibited.”

No employer should be sharing personal information from an employee’s CV. That is a definite breach of trust, and is unethical.

It breaks UAE data protection provisions, specifically Federal Decree-Law 45 of 2021 regarding the Protection of Personal Data.

This is a very serious issue and can result in legal consequences for the individual who did this, as well as the company.

New UAE labour laws come into effect

New UAE labour laws come into effect

The person who shared the CV without permission will be in breach of company regulations and that should be a sackable offence.

If the company's HR department refuses to take action, I suggest the first step is to remind HR of the UAE labour law, quoting it as above, as well as the law regarding personal data.

If they still fail to do their job properly, the other options are either to escalate to senior management or VG can register a case against the company with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

I am aware that making an official complaint can make the work environment difficult, but VG should not have to tolerate this situation.

Q: I resigned from my company 30 days ago. My notice period is over and the company got my signature on visa cancellation papers without transferring my salary or end-of-service benefit.

The usual practice is that they pay after the visa has been cancelled.

Can I file a case against the company if they don't pay me? If yes, within how many days? MP, Abu Dhabi

A: The new labour law, which came into effect in February 2022, specifies a time limit as to when the end-of-service gratuity should be paid.

Article 53 of the law says: “The employer shall pay to the worker, within 14 days from the end date of the contract term, his wages and all his other entitlements stipulated herein and resolutions issued for its implementation, the contract or the establishment’s by-laws.”

This makes it clear that the employer should not delay making the payments due and if they fail to pay MP in a timely manner, he can register a case against them with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

A complaint can be made as soon as the 14-day deadline is missed, although I recommend chasing the employer first in case there has been a genuine oversight.

While cancellation papers do need to be signed, best practice is not to sign them until all monies owed have been paid as the paperwork includes wording that states all payments have been made in full.

That makes it harder to make a complaint against a company that fails to pay what is due.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with more than 30 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: November 19, 2023, 6:27 AM