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MY COM­PANY IS WITH­HOLD­ING MY PASS­PORT

QI was work­ing with a com­pany in Dubai from Oc­to­ber 2014, but they stopped pay­ing me in Jan­uary and ter­mi­nated my ser­vices in June. I re­turned all the com­pany doc­u­ments in­clud­ing Wages Pro­tec­tion Sys­tem ATM card and the pass­word. I dis­cov­ered that my com­pany had with­drawn money from my ac­count. The com­pany has not can­celled my visa and I’ve been told they will not re­turn my pass­port un­less I buy and sub­mit an air ticket back to my home coun­try. Can I file a case against the com­pany at the Labour Depart­ment?

AYou don’t spec­ify the cir­cum­stances of the ter­mi­na­tion of your em­ploy­ment and I pro­ceed on the ba­sis that the em­ployer ter­mi­nated the em­ploy­ment through no fault of your own. Whilst some of the is­sues you raise would need to be ad­dressed by ref­er­ence to the in­di­vid­ual terms of your em­ploy­ment con­tract, your em­ployer ap­pears, on the face of it, to have breached a num­ber of pro­vi­sions of the Labour Law in Dubai. Sec­tion 4 (Ar­ti­cles 55-64) of the UAE Labour Law (No. 8) of 2000 deals with re­mu­ner­a­tion and re­quires the em­ployer to pay reg­u­lar wages. Ar­ti­cle 60 pro­hibits the em­ployer from de­duct­ing any amounts of money, ex­cept in cir­cum­stances not ap­ply­ing in your case.

Sec­tion 7 of the Law deals with ter­mi­na­tion of em­ploy­ment. Your visa ought to have been can­celled promptly upon ter­mi­na­tion of your em­ploy­ment and your pass­port re­turned. You are not obliged to pur­chase your own flight ticket. Ar­ti­cle 131 of the UAE Labour Law pro­vides that ex­penses for repa­tri­a­tion of an em­ployee shall be borne by the em­ployer un­less the em­ployee has signed a con­tract that states he/she has waived this right, or if the em­ployee is tak­ing up fur­ther em­ploy­ment in the UAE, in which case this be­comes the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the new em­ployer.

Depend­ing on the type of your con­tract and the cir­cum­stances of your ter­mi­na­tion you may also have a claim for mon­e­tary com­pen­sa­tion.

You can file a case against the firm with the Labour Depart­ment. If you in­form the firm of your in­ten­tion to do this, they may agree to pay you all your due salary and any ap­pli­ca­ble com­pen­sa­tion and to can­cel your visa and re­turn your pass­port.

Stephen Field is a le­gal con­sul­tant at Sanad In­ter­na­tional Law Group (www.silg.ae) in Dubai and a prac­tis­ing bar­ris­ter in Lon­don

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