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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 I discovered that my company had withdrawn money from my account.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