Repatriation is not an obligation if an employee resigns

Reader asks: This doesn’t seem fair. Don’t they have to pay my flight if I leave the UAE?

When is a company obligated to pay for airfares after an employee's resignation? Maja Hitji / EPA
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I resigned from my job last week after working 21 months. My contract says I am entitled to an amount of Dh2,000 as airfare once every two years but now they are refusing to pay me this allowance as part of the end of service settlement. They are telling me that only after completion of two years will I will be entitled. This doesn’t seem fair, so are they right? Don’t they have to pay my flight if I leave the UAE?

AR, Sharjah

AR's entitlement to this benefit is dependent on the exact wording of the contract of employment. If, as I suspect, the contract states that the airfare is payable after two years then the employer is correct as a full two years has not been completed. Only if the contract states that the benefit is payable pro-rata, would part of it be payable sooner. The issue of paying for a flight on leaving the UAE is covered in Article 131 of UAE Labour Law and this 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."

In this case, as AR has resigned, the employer is only obliged to pay for a flight if he is leaving the UAE to return to his home country and also does not have the money to pay for his flight himself.


Read more:

Can I return to the UAE if my last work visa was never cancelled?

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I have an annual membership at a sports club and I pay in one cheque each year. I paid them in August for a full 12 months and now I have been contacted to say they will be charging me more money from January 1. I know that VAT is happening but are they right to charge me extra when I have paid in full, at the rate agreed?

BV, Dubai

The introduction of value added tax or VAT has been causing quite a lot of confusion, so I sought confirmation from Lisa Martin, owner of The Counting House accountancy firm based in Dubai. She advised: "Under Article 80 of the Decree Law (VAT Legislation) transitional provisions, where a contract has been concluded in 2017 (prior to the introduction of VAT) regarding the supply of a good or service that falls wholly or partly in 2018, and the contract or agreement does not contain clauses related to VAT, then the amounts paid shall be treated as being inclusive of VAT. This means that the sports club must treat the amounts paid as being inclusive of VAT and are not entitled to ask for additional amounts to cover the VAT they must pay over. They do have to account for VAT on the part of the annual subscription that falls into 2018, even though the individual paid for an annual subscription in August 2017." 

She went on to say, “If the individual was VAT registered and able to reclaim input VAT, the club would be entitled to ask them to pay the VAT, but for private individuals who are not VAT registered, then the burden of paying over the VAT on the 2018 portion falls wholly on the sports club.” To clarify, the club has to pro-rate the full year’s subscription between 2017 and 2018, and the 2018 portion is deemed to be inclusive of VAT. This means they do not have the right to ask the consumer to pay an additional sum as VAT on the part of the fee deemed to be from January 1, 2018 onwards.

I recently went to a pharmacy to buy some antibiotics for an infection but the pharmacist refused to sell them to me even though they had a lot on the shelf. He said they are not allowed to sell over the counter even though I have bought from them in the past and that I have to have a doctor's prescription. Why are they doing this? Is this a scam to make people pay out more money as I have bought them many times before? 

LC, Abu Dhabi

It has recently been announced by the Ministry of Heath and Prevention that they will be introducing new laws to prohibit the sale of antibiotics without a prescription. The new rules are intended to follow World Health Organisation guidelines regarding the use of antibiotics due to overuse, especially as they are often taken for viruses where they are of little use. There are laws that state that antibiotics should not be sold to individuals without prescriptions but this guidance has been widely flouted across the UAE for many years and the rules have not been strongly enforced. In this case, the pharmacist was right to refuse the sale.

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