Keren Bobker advises on the latest employment issues in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
I recently had an offer to work in Dubai and flew there at my own expense to join the company on August 1. Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances I had to catch a flight back home the same day. I did not actually do any work for them at all, nor did I have any kind of visa. I informed the company via email, explaining the situation, thanked them for the opportunity and told them I would not be coming back as it just wasn’t feasible at this time. Later that day, I received an email from one of the managers explaining to me that, because I left, that I would have to pay for the cost of accommodation that they provided me with for that week as well as employment costs. The total cost incurred is Dh11,500. In any previous correspondence it doesn’t say anywhere that if I left that I would incur these charges. In fact in the employment contract I was sent it states: “During the probation period, either party is entitled to terminate the agreement for any reason whatsoever and without prior notice”. However, nothing about incurring employment costs and accommodation costs is to be seen anywhere. I am now back in the UK but can they take any legal action? Am I liable for any costs? BN, UK
As BN did not undertake any work for this company, nor did he have a visa of any type, he cannot be considered to have been an employee. I understand that he had not submitted a copy of his passport and that an application for a residency visa was not made. The situation is unfortunate and while it is frustrating for the prospective employer, they do not have the right to request the reimbursement of any costs incurred. This is per ministerial order 52 of 1989, Article 6 which states that no matter the circumstances of leaving employment, the employee is not liable for any of the employer’s costs. This includes any accommodation provided for an employee on arrival. The employer does not have a case against BN under UAE Labour Law.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 20 years’ experience. Contact her at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE.
The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only