Question: I have been working at a firm in Dubai Healthcare City Authority for over three years. I have not been paid for eight months. My employer does not intend to pay the money and claims he has none. All my colleagues are facing the same issue. I have managed to secure a job with a different employer and want to change my visa sponsorship. Can I do this without signing a document stating the I have received all my dues?
Answer: Pursuant to your queries, as you are employed in a company which is regulated by Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCA), the provisions of Federal Law No. (8) of 1980 regulating employment relations (the ‘Employment Law’) and Ministerial Decree No. (766) of 2015 on rules and conditions for granting a permit to an employee for employment by a new employer (the ‘Ministerial Decree No. 766 of 2015’) are applicable.
It may be noted that in the UAE, an employee may leave his employment without notice if the employer does not fulfil his obligations towards the employee. This is in accordance with Article 121 of the Employment Law, which states: “The employee may leave the service without notice in the following cases:
a. If the employer does not fulfil his obligations towards the employee as provided for in the contract or in this Law.
b. If the employer of his legal regal representative has committed an act of assault against the employee.”
You may file a complaint with the Customer Protection Unit (CPU) of the Dubai Healthcare City Authority – Regulatory (DHCR) and request the CPU to allow you to work for your new employer. This is in accordance with Article 1 (III) (1) of Ministerial Decree No. 766 of 2015, which states: “The instances described in I- and II- of this article notwithstanding, an employee may be granted a new work permit if it is determined that the employer has failed to meet his legal or contractual obligations, including but not limited to when the employer fails to pay the employee’s wages for more than 60 days.”
Based on the aforementioned provision of law, upon filing a complaint with the CPU related to non-payment of salaries, you may also submit to them the copy of your offer letter from your new employer. Consequently, the DHCA may cancel your current work permit and it may not close your complaint against your employer regarding non-payment of salaries along with your end of service benefits. If your employer does not agree on settlement by paying your pending salaries and end of service benefits, the CPU may provide you with a letter addressed by DHCA to the relevant court which has jurisdiction to hear your employment case in the UAE.
Further, once the DHCA cancels your current work permit, you may approach the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in the emirate of Dubai and cancel your current UAE residence visa sponsored by your employer. Upon the cancellation of your UAE residence visa, you may inform the same to your new employer and request them to apply for your new work permit and UAE residence visa. However, you may still file an employment case against your employer in the court which has jurisdiction to hear the employment matter in the UAE based on the letter issued by DHCA addressed to the court regarding the employment complaint filed by you.
Know the law
An employee may be granted a new work permit if it is determined that the employer has failed to meet his legal or contractual obligations, including but not limited to, when the employer fails to pay the employee’s wages for more than 60 days.
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: www.amalawyers.com. Readers may e-mail their questions to: [email protected] or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.