Ministry of Labour on lookout for false reports of absconding

Employers who falsely claim that an employee has fled, so they do not have to pay them salary or benefits, will be vigorously prosecuted, ministry officials say.

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DUBAI // Employers who falsely claim that an employee has fled, so they do not have to pay them salary or benefits, for instance, will be vigorously prosecuted, a senior Ministry of Labour official said yesterday. "If it proves that an employer has registered a malicious absconding report against an employee he will be referred to the Public Prosecution on charges of forging official documents," Humaid bin Deemas, the ministry's acting director general, said in a meeting with a group of journalists.

"There is a legal ground for us to refer such employers who try to escape their duties by putting out such false absconding reports, as giving false information in an official document is forgery," he said. It has always been illegal for employers to file a false report that one of their employees has broken their contract and absconded. Absconding is defined as not reporting for work for seven consecutive days without a valid reason.

According to the ministry, some employers had filed such reports to avoid paying salaries or so they would not have to pay end-of-service benefits. "The absconding report is an organisational tool in the labour market which has been put in place so the concerned authorities could crack down on violators and we will not let it under any circumstances become a tool for employers who want to escape their duties or want to take vindictive actions against their employees," he said.

He recounted an ongoing case in which a Pakistani woman appealed to him to help her husband, who was detained by police for allegedly absconding and was scheduled to be deported. She said that after her husband had demanded two months' back pay that he was owed, his employer told him they were going out on a job, but instead took him to the Naif police station. The official, who did not disclose the names of the couple or the company, said the case was being investigated, and action would be taken against the employer if the allegations were proved correct.

He added that the problem was not "a trend", but that the ministry would now aggressively pursue such cases so the practice did not spread. The legal status of the majority of expatriates who live in the country is based on the employment visa issued to them once they start a job. A person is considered illegal if he or she remains in the country without working for the employer who provided them with a visa that is still valid.

A person who has an absconding report registered against him or her will be deported from the country and classified as illegal.