Can I receive compensation for working on a public holiday in the UAE?

The reader would like to be paid for the extra day rather than receive a day in lieu

December 2, 2017.  Dubai Festival City  National Day fireworks display shot from the Al Jadadaf side of the Dubai Creek.
Victor Besa for The National
Requested by:  James O'Hara
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As we had a big project on at work I was asked by my boss to work on a public holiday. I agreed and worked a full day and was offered an extra day off in return. What am I actually entitled to for working that day? Can I ask to be paid extra instead of taking time off?  CD, Dubai

All employees are entitled to take annual leave on official public holidays that fall on their normal working days and there is a procedure in place to compensate people if they work on such days. This is covered in Article 81 of UAE Labour Law which states: "Should the work circumstances require that the worker work during holidays or leaves for which a complete or partial payment is paid thereto, the worker shall be granted a substitute leave as well as an increase in the wage amounting to 50 per cent thereof. Should he not be granted a substitute leave, the employer shall pay to the worker an additional sum to the basic salary thereof amounting to 150 per cent with regards to the days of work." This means that MD is entitled to either time off in lieu of the public holiday worked plus an additional payment of 50 per cent of their standard daily wage, or if they do not have any extra time off work, they are entitled to receive an additional payment equivalent to 150 per cent of their daily salary.


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I am visiting Dubai next month on a tourist visa. I am an Indian citizen holding a valid Indian driving license, so if I obtain an international Driving Permit from India, will I be able to drive a rental car in Dubai? Alternatively, can I drive a private car owned by my father who is resident in the UAE? MN, India

Any tourist who has a full driving license from their home country and a valid International Driving Permit is permitted to hire a care. They may also drive other rented or leased vehicles provided they have the approval of the hire company. In each case a copy of the appropriate licenses must be provided and specific approval provided by the hire company.

The situation in respect of visitors driving privately owned vehicles is more complex and varies between emirates. In Dubai, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has confirmed that there are cases where a tourist or visitor can drive a Dubai-registered car in the UAE if they have an international driving permit. The visitor must have both a full driving license and passport from specified countries and they must be from the same country. Written approval must also be sought from the insurance company.  The countries include most countries in Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and South Africa. India is not on the list, so I do not believe MN will be able to drive a privately owned vehicle while on a visit visa.

These rules are amended from time to time, so I recommend that confirmation is initially sought from the RTA based on individual circumstances and then from the insurance company.


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I have a question regarding my employment in Abu Dhabi. I was working for a company for almost three years, but they let me go and my last working day was November 22. The company took my passport but they still haven't cancelled my visa or provided me with a ticket home. Aren't they supposed to pay me until the cancellation process is done or until I leave the country? MC, Abu Dhabi

An employee should be paid until their last day of employment with a company. The visa, and all other benefits, must stay in force until that time and the passport is required to officially cancel the visa. This can take a few days and will be returned to the individual once the process is completed. The employer is not obliged to pay the employee after the final day of employment, just to pay all monies due on the final day including any days of annual leave accrued and not taken and the end of service gratuity.

AS MC has been made redundant, the employer is obliged to pay his flight back to his home country if he is leaving the UAE and not taking up another position here. Article 131 of the law confirms: "The employer shall, upon the termination of the contract, bear the expenses of repatriation of the worker to the location from which he is hired, or to any other location agreed upon between the parties. Should the worker, upon the termination of the contract, be employed by another employer, the latter shall be liable for the repatriation expenses of the worker upon the end of his service."

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 20 years’ experience. Contact her at Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE.

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only.