UAE - A top legal expert explained how employers could dismiss workers for a 'valid reason' before the new labour law was enforced in February 2022. However, the new law stipulates that a 'legitimate reason' needs to be provided to dismiss employees.
"Expiration of a fixed-term contract is a valid reason for dismissal," explained Judge Dr Ali Muhammad Al Hosani, first appeal judge and head of the technical office of the Labor Court, Dubai Courts. Moreover, employees on fixed-term contracts can now be rejected on notice as expected, with no additional compensation being payable.
Earlier, employees with fixed-term contracts could not be terminated before their expiration date outside of the summary dismissal without compensation being payable.
It is also unlawful to dismiss an employee for filing a complaint against the employer as per the new UAE Labour Law.
Al Hosani said, "The new law gives more flexibility to both parties in terminating the relationship and does not require the completion of the contract term. The law allows them to terminate the relationship by giving two warnings by the law's regulations." He spoke at the second forum for employers, organised by the Labour Standards Development Authority (LSDA) in Sharjah.
Over 300 establishment owners and managers attended the insightful session. Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021 on the regulation of labour relations in the private sector came into force on February 2 this year.
According to the UAE government, the law is designed to enhance employment rights and boost the competitiveness of the Emirates as a place to live and work, helping the region attract and retain world-class talent. The new law also makes provision for businesses to put in place part-time and flexible working arrangements.
It is essential to have a contractual agreement between an employee and employer. Both parties need to know and write down the conditions for employment and termination, said AlHosani. "The foundation of the law is based on trust. Writing down the terms and conditions of the employment helps both parties," he said.
"Sometimes, cases are filed without a labour contract. We hear a lot of such cases in the courtroom. The law is in favour of both employees and the employer. The aim is to achieve a balanced work environment," Al Hosani added.
The legal expert also stated that the wage protection system (WPS) is tampered with in some cases. "There are cases where the salary is deposited via the WPS system and withdrawn from the employee's account in one minute. This is illegal and a clear misuse by employers," he explained.
— It is illegal to keep the passports of the employees
— Recruitment, visa, work permit, and other legal costs of hiring the employee must be paid for by the employer. Employers cannot cut these costs from the employees' salary
— The company must pay for medical treatment costs and insurance fees
— The experience certificate must be non-biased and must be not written in a manner that would jeopardise future employment options for the employee
— There cannot be a delay in giving salaries
— Employers cannot force employees into doing work they are not comfortable doing
— Employees cannot be forced to work long hours
— Harassment, bullying, and emotional and sexual abuse will not be tolerated in the workplace
— For example, if an employer says 'your value is nothing to me' to an employee, it is considered emotional abuse
— A minimum notice period of 30 days continues. However, a maximum of 90 days' notice period has been introduced
— For employees leaving while still employed on unlimited term contracts, minimum notice periods apply of:
30 days for employees with up to five years' service
60 days for employees with between five- and ten years of service
Ninety days for employees with ten years' service or more.
— Employees summarily dismissed were not entitled to a notice period or end of service gratuity. However, the exhaustive list set out under the Old Labour Law has been maintained, with two further additions:
— The additional limitation has been placed on summary dismissal for failure to carry out primary duties – a written investigation and written warnings must be provided before the employee is dismissed
— An inquiry must be conducted before terminating an employee's contract
— Employers must give two warning letters to the employee before termination of employment
— Employers must also provide an apparent reason for dismissal
— An employee cannot be dismissed for consuming alcohol or other substances; however, an employee can be terminated from employment for drinking them during work timings. This includes working from home or while on official video calls
— Cursing or bad-mouthing can be another reason for termination of a work contract
— Employees summarily dismissed lose their entitlement to their notice period; however, now retain their entitlement to an end of service gratuity payment
— Employees with over one year's service continue to be entitled to gratuity, calculated on the same basis as before
— Employees summarily dismissed now retain their entitlement to gratuity, and no reductions apply where an employee resigns.
— Payment of compensation, together with all other termination payments, must be made within 14 days of the termination date.
— Stopping an employee from taking annual leave is not allowed
— Employers cannot terminate the contract of pregnant women
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