How do I secure a new driving licence or any document that will allow me to drive in the UAE? This is for someone who doesn't have a visa or Emirates ID card. My visa was cancelled and I left the country in 2017. I am planning to return and find a job but I have lost my UAE driving licence. How I can replace my lost licence before getting a visa and ID card as the employers I am speaking to need people with a licence? I have a photocopy of it and it is valid until 2022. SB, India
It is a relatively simple process to replace a lost driving licence, although the exact procedure and point of contact varies between emirates. However, this can only be carried out by those with a UAE residency visa. SB cannot request a replacement licence until he has a new job and the visa and ID card have been issued. However, he can confirm to an employer that he has a driving licence that can be revived following official employment in the UAE. The reissuance of a licence only takes a few days.
I've received a job offer but if I sign and return it to the company, does that mean I have to join them? I am waiting to hear back from another company I would prefer to join, but I don't want to lose the existing offer in case the other option does not happen. Both are with private companies. RG, Abu Dhabi
There was a change to UAE Labour Law regulation in 2016 and this means that an offer letter to an expatriate is now legally binding if both parties have signed. It effectively becomes a legal contract that can only be dissolved if both parties agree to do so. Once it has been signed, the employer cannot change the terms offered without agreement and the onus is on the employer to ensure the employee understands the terms before the official labour contract is lodged with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, or is submitted to the relevant free zone.
If an individual signs an offer letter but wants to back out, they can be subject to a ban and/or penalty depending on the type of contract. If RG is not sure they want to join the company, it would be advisable not to sign any agreements that could be binding.
What is the process for leaving a company on an unlimited term contract? I joined a company last month and I want to leave now as I have a better opportunity. My visa is not stamped yet but the entry permit status change has been done. Do I have to bear the cost of the visa expenses? If so, how much will it be approximately? Do I have to serve a notice period? ED, Dubai
ED has accepted the terms of employment for the change of status to take place and to start the visa process, so from a legal point of view he is deemed to be an employee. Under UAE Labour Law, either the employer or employee can terminate the contract of employment without reason or notice if an employee is still in their probationary period. It is best to immediately notify the employer in writing and to obtain confirmation to avoid any confusion.
The employer will have already incurred costs and although they will not be happy about the expense, they are not permitted to pass this on to the employee, no matter the circumstances. No company should ask an employee to pay for the cost of their visa or employment generally; the employer is also expected to pay for the Emirates Identity Card. This was covered in Ministerial Order 52 of 1989, Article 6 which makes it clear that all expenses incurred in taking on an employee must be borne by the employer and cannot be passed on.
As he will be leaving service without staying with employer for at least six months, ED is likely to receive an employment ban. The rules are slightly different for each type of contract and even on an unlimited contract, someone who does not complete six months of service can receive a ban if they are deemed unskilled labour and are in one of the lower employment categories, categories four and five. These are for people without degree, high school diplomas or acceptable professional qualifications. The ban can be for a period of six months in this situation.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 25 years’ experience. Contact her at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE
The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only