'Can my employer replace me with someone on a lower salary?'

The Dubai resident was made redundant but a new hire has already been made

When the employee questioned her employer about the redundancy, she was told to accept the notice period and the final payment. Getty Images
When the employee questioned her employer about the redundancy, she was told to accept the notice period and the final payment. Getty Images

I was recently made redundant but don’t think my company is being fair. I am working my notice but they have already hired someone else to do the exact same job as me but on less money. I questioned this and they told me to accept the one-month notice and the money. They also said I must not go to the Ministry about this. What I am entitled to and what rights do I have in this situation? AN, Dubai

There are a variety of reasons for making an employee redundant but replacing them with someone cheaper is not acceptable. I note that AN has been given one month’s notice but, in this situation, I believe she has a case for arbitrary dismissal. Article 122 of UAE Labour Law states: “The termination of the employment of the worker by the employer shall be deemed arbitrary should the cause of termination not be related to the work…” I understand the company has never spoken to AN about the quality of her work, so this seems to fit the definition. She is therefore entitled to receive three month’s salary by way of compensation if she makes a complaint to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and wins, which seems very likely.

I note the employer has ‘told’ AN not to go to the Ministry, which sounds if they know they are not complying with the law. No employer should say this; the law is there to protect employees from unscrupulous employers and clarify fair practice for all parties.

I recently started a new job in a senior position with management responsibilities. I have just received my passport back with my new residency visa in it and although my actual title is regional director, the visa says I am an ‘archive clerk’. Will this be a problem? DR, Abu Dhabi

It is not uncommon for an employee to have an occupation shown on their UAE residency visa that does not match the actual job they were employed to do. This can be for various reasons. If someone does not have a degree, or suitable higher education qualifications that haves been attested, not all job titles are available to them. The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has a list of available job titles so sometimes something similar must be selected. Also a company can only offer a visa for certain positions as part of their visa quota. These titles can also vary between public and private sectors and in free zones.

It is unlikely this job title mismatch will cause a problem; the only time a person is really likely to have an issue is if they require a visa to travel to some countries for work and have a passport that does not permit them to get a visa on arrival. A more junior title can make it harder to obtain a work visa in cases like that.

I have a question concerning the situation for me and several of my colleagues at the same Abu Dhabi company. We have a 48-hour contract and work 7am to 3pm from Sunday to Thursday. As we normally do not work on a Saturday, the hours add up to 40 a week and now our employer wants us to work additional hours during the evening from 5pm to 7pm at a different location. My question is: is this extra time worked considered an extra shift or overtime? We are asking because the extra hours come some time after we finish at our regular working place and time. Are we entitled to receive overtime or a different type of compensation? DK, Abu Dhabi

If a contract of employment states that an employee is contracted to work 48 hours per week and this is agreed by both parties, then the employer could insist that the full hours are worked. This is the maximum as stated in Article 65 of the law. There is nothing in UAE Labour Law that refers to split shifts but both parties need to be reasonable. What does the employer expect staff to do in the two intervening hours? It is often not viable for someone to travel to their home and back again in this time, so I suggest the employer needs to provide facilities as a minimum for this period.

It could be argued that the short time between the shifts could be construed as part of the working day. If the employer does not make the new set up acceptable to employees, I suggest they speak to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation or their local Tasheel office for an opinion as to whether they consider these actions reasonable given the specific circumstances or if working in this way should be paid as overtime.

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

Published: May 5, 2019 08:00 AM

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