‘What happens if I don’t return to my job in Dubai after my holiday ends?’

The employer can cancel the employee's visa and impose an absconding ban for one year

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: N/A. Stock. A UAE visa in a passport. Monday, August 31st, 2020. Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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I work in Dubai and my employment contract expires in October 2021. I am currently on holiday in my home country. I have applied to move to another European country and hopefully I will receive my visa. What will happen if I do not return to Dubai or inform my current employer? AR, Czech Republic

If an employee goes on annual leave and fails to return, they will be deemed to have absconded. The term “absconder” is usually applied to any employee who fails to turn up for work for seven or more consecutive days, or even 28 non-consecutive days over a period of one year, without informing the employer or without permission.

This is covered in Article 128 of the UAE Labour Law, which states: “Should the non-national worker leave work without a valid cause prior to the end of the contract with definite term, he may not get another employment even with the permission of the employer for a year from the date of abandonment of the work. No employer may knowingly recruit the worker or retain in his service during such period.”

If an employee leaves without giving notice or simply fails to return to work, the employer can apply for an absconding ban.

That will usually be a one-year ban, but in some cases a person can even be blacklisted. The visa will be cancelled at the time of the ban.

My visit visa expired in September last year. Can I apply for a new work visa from a company? I was offered a job but the company will not pay my fine as it is too big. I want to stay in the UAE legally. What can I do? BB, Dubai

If someone has overstayed their visit visa, they are subject to fines. This is Dh200 for the first day and Dh100 for each subsequent day. There is an additional service charge to pay on exiting the country. The fees for overstaying residents are different.

During 2020, the UAE government announced several amnesty programmes for people who overstayed as many were unable to return to their home countries. The last amnesty programme ended on March 31. BB should have benefitted from this initiative, but he is still liable for fines as it seems he did not apply for a visit visa extension.

To establish the exact amount payable, he needs to contact an Amer office, part of the General Directorate for Residency and Foreigner Affairs, and the telephone number for Dubai is 800 5111.

If someone overstays, it is their responsibility to pay the fine and the new employer cannot be expected to cover such a fee

It is the responsibility of a person to follow the UAE's Labour Law and that includes having a valid visa.

If someone overstays, it is their responsibility to pay the fine and the new employer cannot be expected to cover such a fee.

In certain cases, the authorities can reduce overstay fines, but BB will need to submit an application for “removal or reduction of fines” at an Amer office.

There is no guarantee that the amount due will be reduced but a polite request with an explanation and evidence of a new job can assist.

I will soon finish my second two-year employment contract and have told my employer that I plan to return to my home country. The human resources manager said they are willing to renew my contract. However, because I do not want to continue, the company will not pay my costs to travel back home. Is this legal? CH, Sharjah

If someone is on a fixed-term contract and works the full period, their service is considered completed and the employer is liable for repatriation costs. There is no obligation for the person to continue working for an employer even if there is an offer to do so.

In this case, Article 131 of the UAE Labour Law applies and it states: “Expenses for repatriation of an employee to his place of origin or any other place agreed upon by both parties shall be borne by the employer. If the employee after the end of his contract takes up employment somewhere else, repatriation expenses upon termination of his service shall be paid by the last employer subject to the provisions in the preceding clauses, and if the employer has failed to repatriate the employee and has not paid the repatriation expenses, the competent authorities shall do this at the employer’s expense by way of attachment.”

If CH plans to leave the UAE, the employer should pay for his flight to his home country. If the employer is not complying with the law, CH should raise a case as soon as possible with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

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