Know your legal rights in the UAE.
Question: I am a Spanish citizen and have been living in the UAE for 10 years. I lost my job because of the Covid-19 situation. I was informed about this while I was on maternity leave. Before I was fired, I had told my company that I was willing to go on an unpaid leave or work part-time because of the market situation. My boss and I signed an agreement to grant me housing allowance till I found another job. Two weeks ago, the company wrote to me saying they would not be able to pay the housing allowance anymore. I was told to agree with this or avail of a flight ticket back home. We had earlier agreed to retain my visa till December, but they are now saying they would cancel it if I don’t agree to their terms. I have two kids and my whole family is here. I want to find a job and continue my life here in the UAE. Is my company obligated to pay me the housing allowance until I find a job?
Answer: Pursuant to your queries, we assume that you were employed by a mainland company in the UAE. We assume you and your employer agreed to mutually terminate your employment contract under the provisions of Ministerial Resolution No. 279 of 2020 and your employer is paying your housing allowance until you find a new employment in the UAE. Article 3 of Ministerial Resolution No. 279 of 2020 states: “Establishments affected by the mentioned (Covid-19) precautionary measures, which have an excess of non-national employees authorised to work for them, shall register their data in the Virtual Labour Market System to enable their rotation according to the needs of other establishments, provided that their obligations towards these employees remain the same in terms of housing and fulfilling all their entitlements (except wages) until they leave the State or to be authorised to work for another establishment.”
Based on the aforementioned provision of law, the employer is obligated to pay you your housing allowance and other allowances except your basic salary until you find a new employment in the UAE or until you leave the country. However, the aforementioned provision of law also mentions the employer may only pay the housing allowance until you leave the UAE. Since you and your employer have signed an agreement for payment of your housing allowance by the employer till a specific period, your employer may be under an obligation to pay you your housing allowance. In the event your employer fails to fulfil this obligation, you may approach the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation and file a complaint against your employer.
KNOW THE LAW
Employees fired due to Covid-19 precautionary measures are entitled to all their allowances except wages until they leave the UAE or are authorised to work for another establishment.
Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom and India. Full details of his firm on: www.amalawyers.com. Readers may e-mail their questions to: email@example.com or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.
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