I used to work for an international company, from 2012, and I got made redundant on January 30 this year. I had a one-month notice period and the company kindly agreed to extend my visa by another 40 days so I could look for another job. They paid me my salary for my one-month notice period and told me that I did not need to come to the office after February 15. On that day HR took all the company’s belongings from me, such as the company ID card and insurance card, and showed me the “severance pay and end of benefits calculation sheet”, which I accepted by signing that paper. She told me to sign another piece of paper where it was written “I hereby accept that I have received all the end of service benefits” (which includes the severance pay). I did not sign this paper and told her that I would sign it once my visa was cancelled, which was agreed. I have now received a call from HR, as the date of cancellation is coming close, and she told me again that I have to sign that paper. She said once I sign, only then will she cancel the visa. Will the company take any action if I refuse to sign before getting the payment? I am scared to sign before getting the money. I have not got a job so far and I am scared that they will play with my visa. What if they blacklist me or something? ST, Abu Dhabi.
The employer is not acting fairly. By UAE law all employment-related benefits, such as medical insurance and allowances, should continue until the final day of employment, so the company has no right to take the medical card before the end of the notice period. It could even be argued that all the time someone is under the sponsorship of a company they should receive benefits in accordance with the law, so that would mean medical insurance in this case. My view is that ST should not sign to say monies have been paid until such time as they have actually been paid or the company provides him with a cheque. It is not reasonable to ask anyone to effectively sign away their rights and to hope they are then paid in full, as if the company then does not pay up the case against them is weakened. In this case I would suggest agreeing to sign in return for a cheque for all monies due. Considering the length of the employment and the circumstances of departure, the employer cannot blacklist this employee, and such action is usually only possible where someone has absconded or acted illegally.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 20 years’ experience. Contact her at email@example.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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