Read this before switching jobs in UAE

Changing jobs in the UAE can be trickier than in other places around the world, simply because your residence visa …

Changing jobs in the UAE can be trickier than in other places around the world, simply because your residence visa is usually linked to your employer. In this article, we address the main concerns to be considered before switching jobs in the UAE. This article, however, is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion, and it is for informational purposes only. If you would like to discuss how this information relates to your particular matter, we encourage you to contact a lawyer through Legalintro.


Can I resign at any time?  

The distinction between limited and unlimited employment contracts is important when it comes to resignation as the requirements differ. According to the Federal Law No 8 of 1980 on Regulation of Labour Relations (“Labour Law”), an employee who works under a limited contract can terminate the agreement only upon its expiry. Early termination of a limited contract is allowed only at the occurrence of any of the circumstances that are specified in the Labour Law. An employment contract with unlimited duration, however, may be terminated for a valid reason at any time by the parties giving the other party notice of not less than 30 days.  


How about my probation period?  

The Labour Law provides for the initial employment period to be classified as a probationary period and such period can last up to six months during which the employer may terminate the employment immediately, without notice or severance pay. However, the Labour Law is unclear on termination by the employee during the probation period. A vast majority of the experts is of the opinion that the employee may terminate the contract during the probation period without assigning any reason or offering a notice period, while others claim that at least 30 days’ notice should be given by the employee. The best advice is to talk to a specialized employment lawyer and get the correct information after the lawyer examines the employment contract in question.  


Will I need to pay any compensation?  

In the event an employee who is bound by a limited contract terminates the contract before its expiry for a reason other than those permissible under the Labour Law, such employee will be liable to compensate the employer for any damage the latter sustains with an amount not exceeding employee’s 45 days’ remuneration. Comparably, the termination of an indefinite contract by the employee without giving notice entitles the employer to claim compensation in lieu of notice, irrespective of whether or not the employer has sustained damage as a result of such failure.


Can my employer impose a labour ban on me?  

An employer can request the Ministry of Labour to impose a six month to one-year labour ban on the employee as per the Ministerial Decree No. 1186 of 2010 in the event that the employee terminates the fixed term agreement before its expiry without having a valid reason. Likewise, a ban can be imposed for the termination of an indefinite agreement by an employee without giving the required notice.  


What if there is a non-competition clause in my employment contract?

The Labour Law entitles employers to include post-termination restrictions, particularly non-competition clauses in employment agreements. The law also provides that where an employee gets access to the employer’s trade secrets or confidential information or becomes familiar with the employer’s customers, the employer can expose such employee to non-competition restrictions. In practice, however, such restrictions are difficult to enforce in court and are treated as a case by case basis. You can have a call with our specialized lawyers and get an advice in response to your specific fact situation.  


What will happen to my visa?  

An employer must cancel an employee’s residence visa and labour card within 30 days following termination of employment. In addition, the employer must submit a final settlement form duly signed by the employee, stating that the employee has received all the entitlements, including gratuity and notice period pay. This document helps to protect employees by ensuring that they have received the appropriate financial settlement and the authorities will not cancel any residence visa or labour card in the absence of such final settlement form duly signed by the employee. It is therefore advised not to sign any financial settlement form before receiving all the amounts due.


How can I calculate my end of service gratuity?  

The amount should be calculated based on the employee’s length of service and basic salary, excluding any allowance such as housing or transport provided that the employee has completed one year of employment with the employer. For the employees who worked less than five years, the gratuity can be calculated as 21 days’ salary for each year of the first five years of service; and those who worked more than five years will be entitled to 30 days’ salary for each additional year of service. However, there may be certain reductions applied to gratuity entitlements, if the employee terminates the employment contract. It should also be noted that the employee will not be entitled to a gratuity in certain circumstances. Make sure that you have a call with a lawyer to avoid the occurrence of such circumstances.


Where should I initially apply in case my employer does not pay my end of service benefits?

In case a labour dispute arises between the employer and the employee, employee should initially file a complaint with the Complaint Department of Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation along with a summary of the facts, calculation of the amount due, and enclosing a copy of the labour contract. The department shall serve summon upon both the parties to the dispute and shall take whatever it deems necessary to settle the dispute amicably. We advise you to talk to a lawyer who can help lodge such complaint.


What if the Complaint Department cannot solve the dispute?

If the amicable settlement is not reached, the said department shall refer the dispute to the concerned court within two weeks from date of submitting the request. Thus, employees should immediately speak with a specialized employment lawyer who will be able to assist them in this process as it should be noted that there is a one-year statutory limitation applicable to any claim under the Labour Law. In other words, since all the claims will be time-barred after one year, the court will not hear the case, and thereby dismiss the matter.