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Atty. Al Bonghanoy is a Senior Counsel at Gulf Law Litigation Department in Dubai, the Philippines and United Kingdom. He is also a Certiﬁed Public Accountant. Readers may email gulﬂaw@gulﬂaw.info or call +971 4 4492076 to contact the author. To know the schedule of Gulf Law free seminars and legal aid or to subscribe to legal alerts, visit www.gulﬂaw.info.
QUESTION: Last July 15, I resigned from my work in a free zone company based in Dubai because of a better off er from an Abu Dhabi based Company. Nine days after my last working day, my previous employer canceled my visa and hand over my passport.
Then, the long EID holidays (25 July – 2 Aug) followed. 29 July 2014 – My new employer asked me to go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to have my educational certiﬁcate attested. 4th Aug 2014 – All required documents (passport copy, pictures, cancelled visa, certiﬁcates, etc.) from my side were turned over to my new employer.
31st Aug 2014 – Up to now my new visa has not been given by my new employer, apparently it’s having problems getting a new visa for me from the Ministry of Labor Abu Dhabi due to some issues. I’ve been out of work since July 16 and I need to pay several bills like house rent, credit cards, utilities, etc.
I cannot continue to wait for a few more weeks as I don’t have any more money to support myself and my family. Please advice if I have any right to demand for compensation for all of those lost days (August 4-31).
ANSWER: We assume that you have not yet executed an employment contract with your potential employer and you are basing your claim pursuant to an offer letter.
In order to determine your rights, we must examine the terms and conditions of your off er (though companies generally will not assume any obligations towards the candidate when they issue an off er letter).
The provisions of the Labor Code have limited application at this stage. And since you have not yet started working for the company, you will not be entitled to any compensation.
Unless you can prove that the company has made false representations and acted in bad faith in its dealings with you, compensation for damages may not be awarded.
On the other hand, if the company has already issued you an employment visa and your labor contract and permit were already applied before the authorities, you may be entitled to compensation and can ﬁle a complaint with the Ministry of Labor should you and your potential employer failed to settle the matter amicably.
EMPLOYER WON’T CANCEL WORK VISA QUESTION:
QUESTION: I am working in Abu Dhabi under a limited contract. I got an off er from a government institution in Abu Dhabi and I immediately sought the Ministry of Labor’s advice regarding the consequences should I leave my current employer.
Upon ﬁnding out the consequences, I resigned from my company which agreed to set my last working day.
But weeks passed by yet my former employer hasn’t canceled my visa. I was told that it won’t be canceled because my resignation wasn’t accepted and that I need to go back to work.
I decided to talk to them and complain to the Labor Ministry. My question is this: What if my ﬁrst employer still won’t cancel my visa. If my case reaches the court, will my visa be canceled? Would my action damage my ﬁrst company’s image? I don’t want to go back to my ﬁrst employer because they don’t treat us right. I feel that I am lucky getting a job off er from the government. Please help.
ANSWER: No employee can be compelled to work for an employer against her will. If your employer does not want to cancel your visa, you are correct in ﬁ ling a complaint with the Ministry of Labor.
The Ministry will evaluate your complaint and will cancel your Labor Card. Note that depending on the circumstances, cutting short the term of your limited contract may subject you to penalty of up to a maximum of 45 day’s salary as provided for in Article 116 of the Labor Code:
If the contract has been terminated on part of the employee, for reasons other than those provided for under Article (121) hereof, the employee becomes liable for compensating the employer against losses incurred by him in consequence of contract termination, provided that the amount of compensation, may not exceed half a month’s pay for a period of three months or for the remaining period of contract whichever is shorter, unless the terms of the contract provide otherwise.
Note that the imposition of penalty is not applicable if you have valid grounds to terminate the contract with your employer as per Article 121:
The employee may leave the service without notice in the following cases: a. If the employer does not fulﬁll 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.
Once your Labor Card is cancelled, you will need to bring the matter to the Investigation Section of the Immigration so that that your visa can be cancelled.
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