'Which notice period should I serve? The one in my UAE or Indian job contract?'

The employee must check whether he agreed to a change in employment terms

Close up of woman signing contract in job application form. Getty Images
Powered by automated translation

I am a French citizen who has been employed for the past two years by an Indian information technology company that has a branch in Dubai. My UAE contract states a one-month notice period. However, when I went for training to India, I was asked to sign another contract that stated a three-month notice period.

I did not pay much attention to the Indian contract as I am based in Dubai and my understanding is that the UAE contract is the correct one. Can you please confirm whether my notice period will be one month if I decide to resign? NM, Dubai

NM is correct in that it is the official contract in the UAE that is valid and if this states a one-month notice period, that will be legally binding.

Although the other form was signed while he was in India, I still suggest checking that he did not agree to a change of UAE contract as employment terms can be amended by mutual agreement, with a signature deemed as acceptance.

The employer is in a free zone but most adopt the provisions of the UAE Labour Law and that is the case here. This means that a change of contract terms will need to be added as an addendum to the original contract of employment.

Employees in a free zone are sponsored by the free zone, rather than by the employer. The free zone authority should have a record of all official employment contracts.

NM can also request the same from his employer and it should be provide on request. If the employer fails to do so, NM can go to the free zone mediation committee for assistance.

I was suspended from work for disciplinary reasons. I submitted my resignation on March 26 and the hearing was supposed to be on March 31. However, it was postponed to April 14.

My questions are: 1) Do I still have to go to the hearing if I have resigned? 2) Can the employer withhold my salary if there is a chance of me filing a case for unfair dismissal? LS, Sharjah

A change of contract terms will need to be added as an addendum to the original contract of employment

I understand that LS is employed by a mainland company, so the full provisions of the UAE Labour Law will apply.

Due to the nature of the case, I sought input from a lawyer, Danielle O’Brien of Horizons & Co law firm, who said: “Assuming that LS is still working during his notice period, he would have to attend the hearing and complete his duties as if he was still employed. Therefore, should he be on his notice period on April 14, he would legally have to attend the hearing. Nonetheless, it is advisable that he attend the hearing for several reasons – predominantly to know the allegations and to clarify his position with the company.”

With regard to your question about salary, Ms O’Brien said: “As to the salary, the company is entitled to withhold the salary pending the determination of the suspension. However, they are not entitled to withhold the salary under a presumption that LS is building a case of unfair dismissal.”

I am from Pakistan and have been living and working in the UAE for three years. How will I know if my former employer has cancelled my visa properly?

My Emirates identity card expires on May 30. Can I live in the UAE after that? Can I stay here and see if I can find another job? NK, Abu Dhabi

The usual practice for employment visa cancellation is that a passport is taken to a government office and the residence visa is officially stamped “cancelled”. This process should be undertaken by the company or its public relations officer, although personal sponsors may have to cancel the visas of family members themselves.

The cancellation paperwork is signed by the employee and the sponsor. The Emirates ID card should be handed over as it will not be valid after a visa is cancelled.

These days, it is not uncommon for a visa to be cancelled remotely. This means there will be no stamp in one's passport even though the visa has been officially cancelled. A passport scan at immigration or a government office will show this.

A person can check their visa status online using their passport number on the  website of the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship.

Once the residency visa has been cancelled, a person must exit the UAE within 30 days or purchase a visit visa to avoid fines for overstaying illegally.

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