UAE employee’s unlimited contract not subject to penalty

A worker on an unlimited contract wants to resign but is told (wrongly) that she must pay for recruitment costs, fees and flight tickets.

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I have been in the UAE for seven months and know that if I want to resign I have to work a month’s notice. However, I want to know if after working my notice I have to pay any fees back to the company, such as the cost of the flight and agent fees? My salary is Dh1,400 per month and the company says I need to pay Dh4,500. What do I do in a situation like this? AB, Abu Dhabi

I have checked with AB and seen part of her contract of employment and this clearly shows that she is on an unlimited contract. She will therefore not be subject to a penalty for leaving employment provided she gives the appropriate notice, being 30 days in accordance with UAE Labour Law. She will not be eligible for any end of service gratuity as she has worked for less than a full year, but should be paid for days of holiday accrued thus far.

AB is not liable to pay her employer anything if she leaves as it is their responsibility to pay for all costs, including her flight to the UAE and any agent or visa fees. Employers are not permitted to pass on the costs to employees and this is covered in Ministerial Order 52 of 1989, Article 6 which makes it clear that all expenses incurred in taking on of an employee must be borne by the employer and cannot be passed on. If an employer tries to illegally penalise an employee, a case can be registered with the Ministry of Labour (helpline 006655) or at a local labour office.

I have my bank accounts with ADIB, but they have been frozen since June when I changed job. As I had a new job lined up, I thought it would be a simple process of providing proof of this to get the account unfrozen but months later (in mid-October) I still have no access to my account. I received the new offer and salary letter in May and contacted the bank and was told to take these to the nearest branch. I went to the Al Barsha branch, explained the situation and asked what I needed to provide to get the account unfrozen. I was told by the manager that as I had a personal loan I'd need to show my passport, ID card, salary letter, offer letter and visa copy and all were duly provided. Despite being told there would be no issues, within minutes of my last salary being paid in mid-June the account was frozen, and it still is. My account is showing as overdrawn, I am receiving very unfriendly emails and telephone calls stating that if I don't make payments on my loans and credit cards then ADIB will take legal action. Telling them the bank has frozen all my accounts makes no difference. I have been back to the branch a number of times and when I have become upset in frustration they tell me I am being unreasonable. Two to three weeks ago I was told that all the paperwork I had provided to the Al Barsha branch, upon their advice, should have been lodged at the Emaar Square branch. Apparently one branch cannot send this to another one. On Saturday October 8, I went to the Emaar Square branch and despite all that has happened, they told me they couldn't help as the wording on the salary letter was not acceptable (the same letter had been provided several times already and stamped as received by the bank). My employer, a government school, uses this format for all banks. I am now desperate and have had no access to any money for months. KH, Dubai

Upon receipt of this information I got in touch with my contacts at ADIB on October 16, who undertook to investigate the matter. It took a week to resolve the issue but no further documentation was required and Ms H discovered that her account was unfrozen on October 23. A spokesman for ADIB said: “Upon receiving the complaint, ADIB’s complaint resolution unit launched an investigation and contacted the customer to apologise for the delay and inconvenience caused. Miss H’s end of service benefits have been released on October 20 and the issue stands closed.” Ms H is grateful that The National was able to assist.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 20 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

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