Repatriation ticket from UAE depends on employee’s ability to pay

Keren Bobker advises a worker in Dubai who wants to know who pays for the plane ticket home.

An Emirates Airlines A380 at Gatwick International Airport. Courtesy Gatwick Airport Limited
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I recently resigned my position after working with the company for 20 months. I would like to know if my previous employer is meant to pay for my repatriation fees. According to the HR department, as per Labour Law, if an employee were to resign, he/she is not entitled to a ticket home. They also mentioned if I had used my return ticket for that working year, they are no longer responsible to pay for a ticket back home after resignation. What is the correct ruling on this? GF, Dubai

This scenario is covered by Article 131 of UAE Labour Law which 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 ... 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 the cause for termination of contract is attributed to the employee, his repatriation will be arranged at his own expense if he has the means to pay.” You will see therefore that if the employee has the funds to pay for the flight it is their responsibility, but if they do not have the money to do so, and they will be leaving the UAE and not taking up further employment, the employer is obliged to step in and cover the cost.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Contact her at

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