‘Will I get a labour ban if I switch jobs during probation?’

The Abu Dhabi resident's employer should follow rules that prevent bans provided certain conditions are met

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I am a mechanical engineer who has been in the UAE for six years. All my education certificates are officially attested. I am on probation with my current employer. My probation ends soon, but I want to leave the company as I have been offered another job with a better salary. I am not on a fixed-term contract. If I leave this job, will I get a labour ban and what can I do about it?  PV, Abu Dhabi

The rules regarding employment bans changed in January 2016, following the issue of Ministerial decree 766 of 2015 to the benefit of employees. This states that there will be no bans for employees on unlimited contracts provided certain conditions are met. These conditions are: 1) There is mutual consent to end the employment if the employee has worked for six months, although this condition is waived for anyone who has an attested high school certificate or higher qualification; 2) The person’s visa is under skill category 1, 2 or 3; or 3) The employee has worked for at least six months, no matter what their qualifications or skill category are. In each case, the appropriate period of notice should be provided and served, usually 30 days, but the contract of employment will clarify if a different period applies.

PV’s visa states that he is a ‘Maintenance Mechanic General’ and so in this situation, he can change employment without receiving a ban, provided the appropriate notice period is given and served.

I live in Abu Dhabi and have an idea to develop construction-related software. Before discussing this with a developer, I want to protect my idea to make sure no one can use it to develop the software and launch it under their name. Please guide me on my rights in the UAE – how I can register my idea, what documents are required, and what will be the total cost? MK, Abu Dhabi

Request the developers or other parties to sign a non-disclosure agreement and limit the number of people who have access to the information

This question requires an answer from a specialist, so I approached Victor Siriani, managing partner of Avid Intellectual Property. He says: "The best way to do this is to request the developers or other parties to sign a non-disclosure agreement and limit the number of people who have access to the information, including at the developer company. In addition, it must be communicated that copyrights exist in any drawings, schematics and the actual explanation of the software that is provided to the third party. It is equally important to make sure that the agreement with the developer clearly stipulates that all rights, including copyright, are assigned (transferred) exclusively to the person commissioning the software. If this is not clearly indicated, then the developer could end up owning the rights to the software even though payment was made for the development."

Mr Siriani adds: "Once the software is complete, then it is important to consider how best to protect the software. Generally, software is protected as copyright, but under limited circumstances, it may be under a patent, and if both do not apply, then it can be protected as a trade secret."

If MK wishes to protect his idea, it would be wise to seek and pay for professional advice to ensure all documentation is written appropriately. Costs will vary, so personal advice will need to be sought and an indication can be provided before he proceeds.

I want to learn to drive to give myself more options for work. I have been saving money for two years to pay for my driving lessons. I spoke to my boss to get permission and he said the company won't let me do this and won't give me a letter to allow me to learn. I plan to take driving lessons on my day off, so it won't affect work. What can I do? RB, Dubai

It does seem unfair to try to stop an employee from gaining another skill, but the good news for RB is that she can learn to drive without obtaining permission from her employer. The rules in Dubai changed earlier this year and this means that individuals no longer need to obtain a letter of no objection from an employer before taking driving lessons or applying for a licence.

In order to take lessons, RB will need to apply for a learning permit before booking lessons, which can be done through an official driving school. Residents need to provide a copy of their passport and residency visa, the original and a copy of their Emirates ID card, two photographs and an eye test report from a registered optician.

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