Monday, 26 January 2009

Made redundant? Think twice about suing your employer

From "The National" newspaper (Abu Dhabi) 25th January 09

Imagine if the IRC started making similar rulings "Filed out of time? You're deported", "Failed to appear? You're deported", "Still wearing the same suit you wore in Court in the 1980s - you are so deported!".

Expatriates who lose their jobs and who want to sue their former employers have been warned to proceed carefully. The Ministry of Interior has told ex-employees that if they fail to adhere to proper legal procedures they could be fined or even deported. It said that disgruntled workers must first take their complaint to the Ministry of Labour. If that fails to resolve the dispute, then they may file a lawsuit with the courts.

However, it stressed that in filing their legal complaint, they had to secure a letter from the court, which they then had to send to both the Department of Naturalisation and Residency and the Ministry of Labour.The letter would confirm they have a legitimate case pending with the court and should be entitled to an extension of their residency visa.Lt Col Rashid al Khadar, the head of the legal affairs department at the Ministry of Interior, said this would allow plaintiffs to remain in the country while awaiting a ruling on their case. Otherwise, they will be considered as being in the country illegally.

Lt Col al Khadar said a worker with a pending case against a former employer could obtain a six-month, temporary work permit from the Ministry of Labour, which could be extended until the court rendered a verdict.He said if a labour case dragged on for several months, the Ministry of Interior could inform the court it did not object to the employee’s visa being transferred to a new sponsor.“As long as they have genuine cases against their employers, they will have the full support of the ministry,” Lt Col al Khadar said.

Typical claims being filed against employers amid the global economic downturn include failure to pay salaries and gratuities, refusal to cancel labour and residence permits, and asking workers to say they had received end-of-service benefits when they had not.Residency permits are linked to employment and foreign workers are given a month to leave the country when their residence and work permits are cancelled or expire.

“There are so many companies in financial trouble who have terminated the services of their employees without giving them their salaries and end-of-service benefits,” said Karunagappally Shamsudeen, an advocate at Al Kabban Advocates and Legal Consultants in Dubai.“Other companies have been sending their workers on a long or extended leave. If they are outside the country for more than six months, they cannot re-enter the country unless they obtain the necessary approval from the immigration authorities.

“I am currently handling 150 labour cases and seven immigration cases. I have a client who has filed a case against his employer. He received a letter from the clinic, which had closed, that his services were no longer required.“He is asking for his salary, gratuity and an additional three-month salary as compensation for arbitrary dismissal.”Mr Shamsudeen warned that laid-off workers had to stay in the country to receive their end-of-service benefits, and said it would be difficult for employees to file a complaint once they had signed visa-cancellation forms, as the forms state they had received all their dues from the employer.

He said he had also handled several cases of employers filing false absconding reports and asking the Ministry of Labour to blacklist their workers.Workers who have bank loans and credit card bills have to settle them before leaving the country, Mr Shamsudeen said, as employers normally notify the banks of contract terminations.Under immigration laws, people holding expired or cancelled residence visas are fined Dh25 a day for the first six months.

The fine doubles for the next six months to Dh50 a day. They are Dh100 a day for those who have overstayed by more than a year.People who have illegally stayed in the country after the expiry of their visit visas face a fine of Dh100 a day. But at any point they can be deported on a case-by-case basis.


  1. I worked with a company in Dubai and I resigned from the company since company was not paying salaries in time and holds three month salaries and I laso had some health issues. My resignation was approved and have served my notice period as per my employment contract and I got job clearance.

    My company started playing with me after I finished my last working day, despite many follow ups, they were not settling my dues and I am forced to approach the emigration to get my rights in April. Since the company was not ready to settle my dues and they have cancelled my visa in first week of April 2009. without paying dues and without getting my acceptance on cancellation papers) , emigration has refered the case to labor court and accordingly I filed the labor case as I don't have any other resorts that company is not ready for any amicable settlement and they puposely want to delay the matter by referring the case to court.

    Since they have cancelled my visa, I am currently overstaying for the last one month More over the company is not releasing my passport.

    I heard the court proceedings will take another 3 months atleast and I cannot survive until that time without a job. So literally I am forced to stay here after the grace period due to the un settlement of my dues and for getting my passport from the employer. It is not soothing and putting me under high tension thinking of my family surviving in home country literaly without any source of income or support. Can anybody advise

  2. find a job , get the job offer and go to the labour dept ask for 6 months work permit . you lawyer if you have is able to do all of that for you