UAE: Can Employer Hold Workers Passport During COVID-19 Crisis?

Published April 20th, 2020 - 09:00 GMT
UAE: Can Employer Hold Workers Passport During COVID-19 Crisis?
if an employee consents to handing over his passport to the employer, then such possession of the employee's passport by the employer shall not be deemed unlawful. (Shutterstock)
Highlights
You may file a complaint with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and at a police station.

Question: My employer has terminated my employment and my passport is still in the custody of my company. I had requested my employer to return my passport and they said that it will be handed over to me when I leave the UAE. Can an employer withhold the passport of its employees as there are no inbound and outbound passenger flights in the UAE currently due to the COVID-19 crisis?

Answer:

The practice of employers withholding the passports of their employees is prohibited under Circular No. 267 of 2002 issued by the Ministry of Interior (MoI) - unless it is carried out by the judicial authorities in accordance with relevant provisions of the prevailing laws of the UAE.

However, if an employee consents to handing over his passport to the employer, then such possession of the employee's passport by the employer shall not be deemed unlawful, provided the worker's consent is obtained in writing and the company agrees to return the passport at his request. Therefore, as you are requesting your employer to hand over your passport to you, the employer is obligated to do the same. If your employer refuses to return your passport on your request, you may file a complaint with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and at a police station having jurisdiction.

Know the law

If an employee consents to handing over his passport to the employer, then such possession of the employee's passport by the employer shall not be deemed unlawful.


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