No notice period needed if Dubai employer cancels work permit

Know your legal rights in the UAE.


Question: I resigned from my Dubai-based company recently. I was promised a salary increment after my probation period, but my company cut the salary instead due to the impact of Covid-19. My employer cancelled my work permit, but is now saying that I need to serve a month-long notice period. If I work here for a month, I will not be able to find another job because my documents' grace period would have expired. Is it legal to work if the work permit is cancelled?


We assume that you were employed in a mainland company in Dubai. Further, we assume that you were sponsored by your employer and the employer has cancelled your UAE residency visa.

An employee needs to resign from his employment by serving a notice period which is stipulated in its employment contract registered with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE).

This is in accordance with Article 1 (I) (3) & (II) (2) of the Ministerial Decree No. 765, which states: "An employment relation between employer and employee may be terminated as follows:

I (3) - In the case of fixed-term (limited) contracts (approved by the Ministry for a term of no more than two years), an employment relation is terminated if either party (employer or employee) acts unilaterally to terminate the contract and complies with the legal steps that are described in clause (4) of this article. The terminating party bears any legal consequences of early termination.

II (2) - In the case of unlimited (not term-bound) contracts, an employment relation is terminated if one party acts, at any time, to terminate the contract subject to notifying the other party and continuing to honor contractual obligations for the duration of the notice period, which cannot be less than one month and cannot exceed three months."

Based on the aforementioned provision of law, an employment contract for a limited duration may not have a notice period mentioned in it. Having said that, if both the employer and employee agree on a notice period, then the employment contract for a limited duration may have a notice period mentioned in it.

You and your employer may have signed the work permit cancellation document and submitted the same to MOHRE. Thereafter, your employer may have cancelled your UAE residence visa. It may be noted that once the work permit is cancelled, the employer-employee relationship ends and therefore your employer may not call upon you to serve your notice period. Your employer may have been entitled to call upon you to serve the notice period as mentioned in your employment contract when you had informed him regarding your decision to resign.

However, he employer cannot ask you to serve the notice period post the termination of your employment contract and the cancellation of your work permit. In the event you are employed upon cancellation of your work permit, such employment may be termed as illegal. This is in accordance with Article 34 (1) of the Federal Immigration Law, which states:

"A fine of Dh50,000 shall be imposed on any person who has used foreigners who is not under his sponsorship without complying with the terms and conditions prescribed for the transfer of sponsorship or without obtaining the necessary permit.

"The penalty shall be imprisonment and a Dh50,000 fine in case of return to the same act.

"The sponsor shall be punished with the same penalty stipulated in the two preceding paragraphs of this section if he does not employ the sponsored person or let him works for others without following the legal procedures prescribed for such act ..."

Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom and India. Full details of his firm on: Readers may e-mail their questions to: or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.

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