Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 1 November 2020

‘Can my employer give me notice when I can’t complete my targets?’

The Dubai resident who works for a fitness company has been told she has to reach 75% of the required number of billing hours or face termination

The employee received 30 days' notice to complete her targets, even though she cannot go to work or leave her house. Photo: Getty Images
The employee received 30 days' notice to complete her targets, even though she cannot go to work or leave her house. Photo: Getty Images

I was hired by a fitness company based in Business Bay earlier this year and was the top performer in the company for two months. Now due to the virus outbreak, I received notice of 30 days to complete my targets or otherwise my employment services will be terminated. Please help me understand what the law states as I don't see how I can complete my targets if I cannot leave my home. TM, Dubai

TM was sent an email from the company advising that as she had not reached the required number of billing hours, she had to reach 75 per cent of the target for her position to be viable. The email made reference to coronavirus and while it has been stated that this alone is not a sufficient reason to make an employee redundant, employers do have the right to terminate employment but not before looking at other options. The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation issued Resolution No 279 of 2020 on March 30, which set out the steps employers should take at this time. Before termination, the other options to be discussed are taking annual leave, taking unpaid leave for a specified period, or a temporary or permanent reduction in salary. In each case, any action must be taken with the agreement of both parties.

Before a company can terminate employees, they must consider all of the available options. Only if no agreement is reached can the employee be terminated and the employer may need to demonstrate the reason why. The employee must be given notice and be paid in full for the notice period with a final settlement to include any end-of-service gratuity due and any days of annual leave accrued and not taken. Redundancy in this situation, provided other options have been offered and discussed, will not be considered to be arbitrary dismissal so no additional payment can be claimed.

In this situation, it seems that the employer has not looked at the alternatives and that one of these may better suit both parties in the short term.

I own a business in Dubai and am planning ahead for later in the year. I have found a woman that I want to employ but she is in Australia now and will move with her son. She is a single parent and we’d like to know if it is going to be possible for her to sponsor her son. KM, Dubai

The good news is that it is possible for a single mother to sponsor a child, provided certain requirements are met. All applications of this nature are subject to individual approval but there is a minimum salary requirement of Dh10,000 per month for a single mother. The rules were relaxed in 2019 as they were previously linked to occupation, although with some leeway upon request.

There are a few additional requirements. The sponsoring mother will need to provide a NOC (No Objection Certificate) from the father, confirming that there is permission for the child to live with the mother in another country. If divorced, she will have to provide an attested copy of the divorce papers. If a widow, a copy of a death certificate will be required.

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I have received a job offer in Belgium, my home country, and would like to return there. If I resign from my long-term contact in the UAE, my notice period will be one month. I know my employer must provide me with a plane ticket to return to Belgium, but what if, with the coronavirus restrictions, there are no flights? HD, Abu Dhabi

Firstly, not everyone is entitled to a paid flight when leaving the UAE. In some cases, this will be part of the contract of employment but for many UAE Labour Law will apply. Article 131 of the law states: “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 … Should the reason of the termination of the contract be attributable to the worker, the latter shall be repatriated at his own expense should he have the means therefore.” As HD will resign, the employer may not liable to pay for the flight.

In a situation where employment has ended, and someone wishes to leave the country but it is not possible as there are no flights, the individual will simply need to remain in the UAE. The employer can choose to be amenable and extend the visa or employment end date. Currently, it is not generally possible to change a visa status, but the UAE Government has advised that there will be no fines for expired residency visas. Flights are also available to some locations and this situation is updated regularly.

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: April 12, 2020 11:06 AM

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