Physiotherapist ‘forced to resign’ only received compensation when ministry intervened

A British physiotherapist claims he was forced to resign from his job at a hospital after being attacked by a colleague and consistently not paid on time.

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ABU DHABI // A British physiotherapist claims he was forced to resign from his job at a hospital after being attacked by a colleague and consistently not paid on time.

F S, 30, who has been in the UAE for more than two years, said his attempts to seek compensation and collect back pay from hospital management went nowhere, prompting him to seek legal help and, eventually, the services of the Government.

“I was only paid because the Ministry of Labour intervened. If they hadn’t, the hospital would have ignored my legal letter, they wouldn’t have bothered,” said the married father of a two-year old son.

He urged those experiencing trouble in the workplace to look beyond the hassle and potential pitfalls and seek the assistance of the ministry after it helped him seek recourse.

Shiraz Sethi, a lawyer with Dubai-based law firm Stephenson Harwood, said workers may not file complaints with the MoL to avoid straining relations with their employer, They may also be concerned about long queues and having to take time out of their workday to attend hearings.

He said the ministry had a good track record of helping workers seek recourse.

“In our experience, a significant number of cases have been resolved by filing a MoL complaint,” he said. “The MoL is an effective dispute resolution centre, which brings the parties to the table and acts as a mediator before the matter is escalated to the labour courts.”

F S said he resigned from the hospital in December, less than six months on the job and days after allegedly being verbally insulted and physically attacked with a khanjar-style dagger on hospital premises, sustaining wounds to his shoulders and back.

He claimed the attack took place in full view of co-workers and the public but the management did not acknowledge the situation or conduct a disciplinary hearing.

He said he visited police the next day to file a report with an Arabic-speaking relative.

When hospital management refused to accept his resignation letter, F S said he visited the Ministry of Labour office in Musaffah in early January, which intervened and had both parties meeting face to face in front of a labour official.

Days later, the hospital paid him compensation and all back pay, he said.

“I didn’t know what to do, I was completely new to this,” he said. “Go to the ministry, it could be a long process, but the outcome will be on your side.”

When experiencing a workplace issue, Mr Sethi said the first course of action should be to reach out to management or human resources.

If ignored, a formal complaint should then be filed with the ministry which can be done free of charge, he said.

He said UAE labour law stipulates that an employee can leave their job without providing any notice if a contractual right has not been fulfilled by the employer or if they’ve been the victim of assault.

Assault could also be grounds to file a criminal complaint with the police.

The managing director of the hospital did not respond to questions when contacted by The National.