'Am I entitled to compassionate leave as a private sector employee?'

The Dubai resident took two days off to mourn the death of her aunt

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I work in an educational establishment and have a query about compassionate leave. A few weeks ago, my aunt died. I did not go home for the funeral but was very upset as we were close. I took a day off work and then another a few days later on the day of the funeral. Both times I contacted my line manager and although she was a bit unhappy, she did not say much else. I did not feel I could concentrate on my work or responsibilities when I knew the funeral was taking place. When I returned to work I found out that she has marked these two days as annual leave and deducted them from my annual allowance. A friend who works for a government company told me that in the public sector they get three days of compassionate leave each year. Does that also apply to the private sector? I am rather shocked that the company has no sympathy but want to know my rights before I do anything else. RF, Dubai

There is nothing in UAE Labour Law that refers to compassionate leave or that states any employer must allow an employee to take additional days of leave. In situations like this, it is purely down to the employer’s discretion although I would like to think that most employers would be sympathetic. In this case, the employer is legally correct in insisting that the days are part of annual leave.

The situation is different for public sector employees. Dubai government, for example, has stated that people can take compassionate leave of up to five days if a ‘first degree’ relative (parents, spouse or children) dies, or up to three days for a ‘second degree’ relative.


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I worked for a company in Dubai for about four months and only received payment once. Now there is an issue with the bank and the owner is saying he is not liable but I have not received payment in three months and may be leaving Dubai soon. Is there any legal recourse I can take to get my situation sorted? For the record I am owed Dh9,167. TM, Dubai

It is wrong for an employer not to pay an employee in a timely manner and this should be picked up by the Wages Protection System but a few cases can slip under the radar. If an employer does not make payments then they can be reported to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) and there should be consequences for the company, such as fines or a ban on processing further visas.

It is not clear from the query whether TM was issued with a residency visa, but if he was able to walk away from the job without any issues from the employer it suggests the visa had not been processed. If someone is not paid for three consecutive months they will be able to leave a job straight way without consequences, but only someone that was working legally with an employment visa in place is able to make a formal complaint about non-payment. With a salary at this level I would expect there to have been a six-month ban for leaving within six months.

If, however, TM has a visa via this company he can register a case against the company for non-payment either through his local labour (Tasheel) office or the MoHRE helpline on 800 665.

Despite the employer not paying salary when due, they are not liable for any personal debts that an employee has taken on and the legal liability rests with the individual.


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I am the owner of a small business registered in a free zone in Sharjah. I also live in Sharjah and my wife is now looking for employment and is talking to a company based in Dubai. I sponsor my wife and family and her visa says ‘housewife not allowed to work’. We first thought her employer would sponsor her but they only want to take her on if I sponsor her, so is she allowed to work with her visa? Is it also OK for her to work in another emirate? JC, Sharjah

Despite the wording on the spouse’s visa, a woman may legally take up employment provided her husband provides her with a No Objection Certificate, known as a NOC. This a letter, addressed to the future employer that states that the husband has no objection to his wife taking up employment; with this she can be legally employed. The employer saves the cost of sponsorship but must still organise a ‘labour card’, although this is all electronic these days. Anyone employed on this basis has the same rights and entitlement under UAE Labour Law as any other employee. It is not an issue for her to work in Dubai with a Sharjah residency visa.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 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.