I am working as a saleswoman in a laundry shop on a limited contract since May 2015. Recently the company transferred me to their shop in a mall.
The company is forcing me to work during public holidays without compensation. When I objected to it, the company threatened me with termination. I told the management that they can terminate me for not working on public holidays and I will seek assistance from the Ministry of Labour.
To add to it, my working time is from 9am to 9pm. Although the actual timing is 9am to 1pm and 4pm to 9pm, as it is a shopping mall, I cannot take a break because I am alone at the shop and customers continue stepping in. I informed my management that I am not getting time even for my lunch and they assured me that I would be paid extra. However, that never happened and I was never paid for the overtime.
Now, the management has asked me to hand over the shop inventories, cash and key of the shop to the company driver, which I refused and informed them that I would hand over all those to any company officials, not the driver.
I need your advice.
It is presumed that your employment is subject to the provisions of the Federal Law No 8 of 1980 on the Regulation of Labour Relations (the "Employment Law").
In respect of the national holidays, the Employment Law prescribes that the employees shall be entitled to get leave with full pay for the said holidays. And where, owing to circumstances of work, employees are required to work on such days, they shall be entitled to receive compensatory leave on some other day and also receive additional compensation. You shall therefore be entitled to get the compensatory leave and additional benefits as such. We cite Article 81 of the Employment Law for your reference.
"Where the circumstances of the work make it necessary for a worker to work on public holidays or rest day in respect of which he is entitled to full or partial pay, he shall be granted compensatory leave in respect of such days, together with a bonus equal to 50 per cent of his remuneration. If he is not compensated for such days by leave, his employer shall pay him a bonus equal to 150 per cent of his basic remuneration in respect of the days worked."
The Employment Law contains specific provisions whereby the daily period of work has been prescribed. The maximum working hours for employees normally working in general establishments shall be eight hours a day. And in case of establishments involved in trading, hospitality/hotels, cafeterias, security etc., the hours of work may be increased to nine hours a day. We cite Article 65 of the Employment Law for your reference in this regard.
"The maximum number of ordinary working hours for adult workers shall be eight hours per day, or forty-eight hours per week. The number of hours may be increased to nine hours per day for people employed in trade, hotels, cafeterias, security and other jobs whose addition may be made by virtue of a decision from the Minister of Labour. Furthermore, the daily number of working hours may be reduced for strenuous or harmful works and such by virtue of a decision from the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs. The ordinary working hours shall be reduced by two hours during Ramadan. The commutation periods spent by the worker from the place of residence to the work site thereof shall not be calculated within the working hours."
It is also prescribed in the Employment Law that the daily hours of work are to be designed by the concerned employer in a manner that employees are not required to work for more than five hours at a stretch and there are adequate breaks for rest, meals and prayer. This is in accordance with the provisions of the Article 66 of the Employment Law which reads as follows.
"The daily working hours shall be so regulated that no worker shall work for more than five successive hours without breaks - for rest, meals and prayer - amounting in aggregate to not less than one hour. Such breaks shall not be included as part of the working hours.
However, in factories and workshops where work is organised in the form of successive day and night shifts, and in processes where work has to continue uninterrupted for technical and economic reasons, the manner in which breaks for rest, meals and prayer are to be granted shall be specified in a resolution by the Minister."
The Employment Law however prescribes, that where the condition of work require an employee to work beyond the normal working hours, the employee shall be entitled to receive overtime remuneration in addition to his/her regular remuneration. This is in accordance with the provisions of Article 69 of the Employment Law which reads as follows:
"Where the work circumstances require a worker to work more than the normal number of hours, any period worked in excess shall be treated as overtime, for which the worker shall receive the wage stipulated for his normal working hours, plus a supplement of at least 25 per cent of that wage."
The Employment Law also prescribes that the maximum overtime work hours shall not exceed two hours in a day. This is in accordance with the provisions of Article 69 of the Employment Law which reads thus.
"The number of actual hours of overtime shall not exceed two a day, unless work is necessary to prevent the occurrence of substantial loss or a serious accident or to eliminate or alleviate its consequences."
In view of the foregoing provisions cited from the Employment Law, and in view of the nature of your work, it may be noted that you may be liable to work for not more than nine hours in a day. Nevertheless, you shall not be liable to work for more than five hours at a stretch and that you shall be entitled to have necessary breaks from work for meals, rest and prayer. And, for the additional hours that you may work at the establishment, you shall be entitled to receive overtime salary.
It is also noted that your superiors have asked you to hand over the establishment keys and other assets of the entity to the 'company-driver', whereas you have insisted on handing over such things to 'company officials' only. In this regard, it may be noted that there are no prescribed means for handing over of responsibility vis-à-vis the Employment Law. Although, in general perspective, the handing over must be done to your immediate supervisor or the officer to whom you are liable to report. However, if that is not feasible, you may also hand over the assets to a person designated by your superior for the purpose. However, for good order, you may insist that at the time of handing over of the assets, the concerned person i.e., the driver must hold an authorisation letter from your superior. Such letter must contain a list of all the assets required to be handed over to him. In pursuance, you may make also an inventory of all the items for handing over, and take an acknowledgement from the concerned person regarding due receipt of such items.
You may contact the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (previously, the Ministry of Labour) in the event of a dispute with your employer or should you face any infringements/violations in respect of your rights as an employee.
KNOW THE LAW
Where the circumstances of the work make it necessary for a worker to work on public holidays or rest day in respect of which he is entitled to full or partial pay, he shall be granted compensatory leave in respect of such days, together with a bonus equal to 50 per cent of his remuneration. If he is not compensated for such days by leave, his employer shall pay him a bonus equal to 150 per cent of his basic remuneration in respect of the days worked.
Employer should bear recruitment expenses
I am currently in India and I got a job offer from Abu Dhabi. My employer/sponsor has stated before the Ministry of Labour in signing that my visa expenses will be borne by him and I have to pay only the flight charges. But, during the process he told me that as per new regulations, visa process has been shifted to the employee's country and hence I will have to bear the cost including that for the medical tests.
Since I completed all the process by spending from my pocket his version is that he never offered to reimburse visa and medical expenses.
As I already spent the money and the visa is stamped on my passport, I am confused whether to take up the job or leave it since I still have options in my home country.
Please advise what will be the consequence if I don't take up the job after the visa is stamped on my passport. What will happen if I get another job in the UAE later?
In pursuance of your queries, it may be noted that the procedures for your visa processing which commenced in India, has been done in accordance with the new measures taken up by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation of the UAE, with a view to outsource the visa processing procedures to the country of a prospective employee. And, it is presumed that your employment visa was also stamped into your passport following this process.
However, it may be noted that in the UAE, in accordance with the prevailing laws, the employer is liable to bear the recruitment and sponsorship expenses for recruitment of its employees. This is in accordance with Article 6(a) of Ministerial Resolution No. 52 for 1980 regarding 'The Rules and Procedures to be adopted at the Labour permits sections with respect to the recruitment of non-national labours for the employment in UAE' which states,
"The employer or its legal representative shall sign the recruitment application form prepared by the ministry for this purpose, such form shall include an undertaking from the employer to the effect that he shall sponsor and be responsible for the recruited labourer, the bearing of his recruitment expenses and his employment in accordance with the employment contract in a way not prejudicing the provision of the Federal Law No. 8/1980 referred to herein."
In view of the foregoing, it may be noted that your employer is liable to pay you for the costs involved in respect of issuance of the employment visa and as such, he may not refuse to reimburse the expenses incurred by you.
If however, your employer altogether refuses to pay you for the costs of visa, you may choose not to commence employment with the concerned employer. And for good order, you may also contact the centre where your employment visa was processed, or the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation of the UAE, or the UAE Diplomatic Mission in India, stating that your reasons for non-commencement of work.
KNOW THE LAW
In accordance with the prevailing laws, the employer is liable to bear the recruitment and sponsorship expenses for recruitment of its employees.
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