'I resigned but my employer will not pay for accrued leave. Is this legal?'

The Dubai employee quit his job before completing a full year at the company

Two people are standing at a table, across from each other. Their hands grasp each others in a firm handshake. On the table sits a contract of employment. Getty Images
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

I joined a private company in Dubai on June 20 last year. However, I submitted my resignation on May 25 and am scheduled to fly back home this week. My last working day was June 18. Do I qualify to be paid for my annual leave days?

I was told I am only entitled to receive this if I continue with the company since the visa is for two years. I was also told I would receive nothing since I did not complete a full year. The company is also asking for a weeks' salary because I did not complete my notice period. Where do I stand? JA, Dubai

The employer is a mainland company, so UAE Labour Law applies. As JA was on an unlimited contract, there is no penalty for leaving employment. Most mainland Dubai visas are issued for a period of two years but that does not mean that someone needs to stay with an employer for that period.

All permanent employees are entitled to leave days from the beginning of service, although some companies still do not allow staff to actually take days off during the first year, instead making them wait until 12 months have been completed.

Article 76 of UAE Labour Law says the employer may determine the date when annual leave begins but this does not take away the entitlement.

This is set out in Article 75, which states: “The worker shall be entitled during every year of service [to] an annual leave of no less than the following periods: a – Two days for each month, should the period of service of the worker be six months at least and a year at most. b – Thirty days for each year, should the period of service of the worker exceed one year. Should the service of the worker be terminated, the worker shall be entitled to an annual leave for the fractions of the last year.”

As JA has almost completed a year of service, he is entitled to the full payment and if days have accrued, then he is entitled to payment in lieu as part of his final settlement.

All employees need to give notice when they resign and presumably a shorter notice period was agreed with the employer if a flight was booked. Generally, work performed during the notice period should be paid in full, but it can be for a shorter period if the parties agree.

The employee would then only be paid only for the days worked. An employer cannot impose a penalty on the worker for resigning and must pay the salary for the days worked and annual leave that has accrued. As the period of employment was not for a full year, no end of service gratuity is payable.

I am in Dubai and my visa expired on May 30. I have not been able to go back to the Philippines due to Covid-19 travel restrictions and am staying with friends. I am worried I will incur a huge fine and fear that if I leave, I may not be able to return when I find work. I heard the government said all expired visas have been extended for three months but other people have told me that they are OK until the end of the year. What are my options? RT, Dubai

There have been a number of announcements about visas and the situation is different depending on whether a visa has expired or been cancelled and on what date.

All visas that expired on March 1 or later have been extended until December 31 without any fines.

If a visa was cancelled or expired before March 1, the person can stay in the UAE for three months without fines, effective from May 18, meaning fines will begin on August 18.

The third category is people whose visas have been cancelled and they only have the standard 30-day grace period. RT said his visa expired on May 30 and that means it has automatically been extended to the end of the year.

For peace of mind, individuals can check their visa status on UAE Government websites. If someone is a Dubai visa holder this is through the General Directory of Residency and Foreigner Affairs website (https://smart.gdrfad.gov.ae/Public_Th/StatusInquiry_New.aspx).

If someone has a visa issued in another emirate, this should be checked on the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizen website (https://smartservices.ica.gov.ae/echannels/web/client/default.html#/fileValidity).

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