I have worked for a company for the past 20 months out of a 24-month limited contract. Unfortunately my father got ill back home so I was asked by my family to come and help look after him. I notified my employer in writing and we agreed to terminate the contract after I served a 30-day period. However, after I finished the notice period, I was told I have to buy my own ticket since I had not finished the contract. I tried getting money but to no avail. Now they are threatening to kick me out of the accommodation. Meanwhile, I have been working for 10 hours a day without overtime pay for the past 20 months though my contract states nine hours a day. What action do you suggest I take next? HC, Abu Dhabi
There are two different issues here. One is in relation to ending the employment and the other regarding hours of work. In respect of ending employment, if this is on the part of the employee on a fixed-term contract, then the employee can be penalised for breaking the term of the contract early in accordance with UAE Labour Law, Article 116, which states that “the employee becomes liable for compensating the employer against losses incurred by him in consequence of contract termination, provided that the amount of compensation, may not exceed half a month’s pay for a period of three months or for the remaining period of contract whichever is shorter, unless the terms of the contract provide otherwise”. No end of service gratuity is payable. In respect of the cost of a flight to a home country on leaving employment, Article 131 states: “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.” This means that in this case the employee is liable for the costs. In respect of the accommodations provided the law is very clear on this matter. Article 131 states: “In the cases where the employer provides the employee with accommodation, the employee shall be obliged to vacate the accommodations within a period not to exceed 30 days from the date of his service termination.” This is 30 days after employment, including the notice period, has ended.
Permitted hours of work are again set out clearly. Article 65 states, “the maximum normal working hours for adult employees shall be eight hours per day or 48 hours per week. However, working hours for the employees of commercial establishments, hotels, restaurants, watchmen and similar operations may be increased to nine hours per day as determined by the Minister of Labour.” HC has not mentioned his occupation so I presume nine hours is correct. For the hours worked above this he is entitled to receive overtime at payments “equal to that corresponding to his normal working hours plus an extra of at least 25 per cent of such remuneration”. This is per Article 67. If any payments are not in accordance with the terms of the law, a case can be registered with the Ministry of Labour.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with more than 20 years’ experience. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE.
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