Dubai: If you’ve been made redundant and the company did not give you your legally stipulated severance pay, fight for it and don’t let your employers get away, a lawyer told Filipinos on Friday.
“Many workers are not aware of their rights, especially, for example, those who have unlimited contracts.
"Many people think only those with limited contracts who are arbitrarily terminated are entitled to a maximum of three-month compensation. Even those with unlimited contracts who are dismissed arbitrarily are entitled to this,” Attorney Barney Almazar, a licensed UAE legal consultant and partner at Gulf Law, told Filipinos participating in a free legal aid seminar on the UAE Labour Law at the Philippine Consulate-General on Friday.
According to the UAE Labour Law, if the service of an employee under an unlimited contract is terminated without valid reason or warnings, the employer must pay him compensation up to three months’ full salary (basic plus allowances) in addition to the notice period, and gratuity.
Even if workers know this, some of them suffer in silence and move on to their next job or just go home for good.
Fear and their non-confrontational culture deter some Filipinos from reporting abuses by their employers — a fact that Philippine officials have time and again tried to campaign against.
“The first reason is fear — of being misunderstood or the fear of retaliation. The next would be fear or uncertainty of what will happen to them,” Almazar said.
Some are not willing to fight for their rights to avoid going through the court procedures.
'No need for a lawyer for this'
“They do not need a lawyer for this,” Almazar explained.
“The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation will try to mediate between the employee and employer and try to resolve it at that level first. Many cases are settled at this stage.”
The case will only be forwarded to the labour court if the dispute is not resolved, which is what happened to a Filipino accountant who sought Almazar’s advice.
“The problem started with my employer’s refusal to cancel my visa as I found a new job with an oil and gas company. I filed a complaint with the ministry but my employer didn’t show up in any of the meetings,” the Filipino told Gulf News, requesting anonymity.
“It took a lot of effort, time and money on my part. I was willing to let go of all my receivables and move on just so my employer would cancel my visa but he didn’t. That pushed me to fight on. The ministry gave me a temporary work permit while the case was being heard so I could earn a living,” the accountant said. “Finally on June 11, the court gave a ruling in my favour.”
Almazar said workers, regardless of nationality, have no reason not to report any violation. Not doing so will encourage unscrupulous employers to do it to others in the long run.
“In my almost five years of providing legal aid concerning labour cases, I have not come across any labour officer at the ministry who is anti-employee. I even tell myself, [that] we do not need the assistance of the Philippine government to protect our labour force. If only the employees would know how efficient the UAE labour system is,” Almazar said.
“Mechanisms are in place to ensure that you are protected. You just have to utilise them,” he said.