Know your rights when leaving your job in the UAE

Our ready reckoner on employee rights and responsibilities based on UAE labour law.

Sankar Pillai
September 1, 2019

While resigning from a job or in the unfortunate event of a termination, many UAE residents are forced to compromise on what they are legally expected to receive from the employer. This is often the result of a poor knowledge of UAE labour law, despite clear guidelines being issued by the government on employee rights.

Laws protecting both employee and employer interests help deal with various scenarios, from notice periods to arbitrary dismissals. Let’s take a look at some clauses.



An employer’s acceptance or rejection of one’s resignation is not essential legally, reports Gulf News. Therefore, if the resignation is even submitted on email, it is considered accepted from the date of submission, with the contractual notice period starting from the date the email was sent.


Essentially, two types of job termination exist including redundancy due to cost-cutting measures being implemented by the employer, and arbitrary dismissal or wrongful termination. The dues and receivables employees are entitled to also differ based on the type of termination.

Gulf News reports that if an employee is made redundant, he or she is only liable to receive the gratuity pay and/or notice period compensation. However, an employee is entitled to compensation during arbitrary dismissal, along with gratuity and other dues.


Notice period

Based on the clause in one’s contract, the duration of the notice period while resigning varies between one and three months. Gulf News reports that the notice period cannot be more than three months as per UAE law, and that an employer cannot force an employee to work for a longer period of time than the stipulated three months.

Again, the notice period varies based on whether an employee is resigning or being terminated. In both instances, the notice period is calculated from the day of resignation or termination. An employer can ask the employee to work during the notice period, or pay a salary for the period in question before letting the employee go.

Air fare

Gulf News reports that as per UAE law, according to Article 131, an employer is not obligated to pay an employee’s air fare to his or her home country unless otherwise specified in the labour contract. If this is mentioned, the employer is obligated to pay all fares as specified by contract.

However, in case of a contractual obligation, if the employee enters into the service of another sponsor or employer after, then the latter becomes responsible for air fare from the point of recruitment. If the termination is by fault of the employee, the employer is not legally liable to pay for air fare if the employee has the means to pay – even if it is mentioned in his or her labour contract.

This law is specific to the cost of a travelling ticket for the employee. Other legally payable costs include shipping or family repatriation, if these were agreed upon in the labour contract or as per contractual company policies.

Visa costs

An employee should never have to reimburse the employer for visa charges and costs incurred. Visa and sponsorship expenses are the sole responsibility of the employer, and is independent of how or why a contract was terminated. Companies have been known to ask for installment-based deductions for visa costs from employees – this is illegal and punishable by law.

Experience certificate

According to Article 125 of the UAE Labour Law, an employee upon end of contract should be given an end-of-service certificate detailing start date, end date and nature of work performed during the period of employment, reports Gulf News. An employee can also request that the latest pay or wage details be added to the certificate.

An employee can request this certificate upon the end of his or her contract, and the employer would be liable to furnish this, along with any and all certificates belonging to the employee.

Gratuity Pay

Payment of gratuity pay depends on how long an employee has been working for the firm, as well as the contract type.

Visa cancellation and passports

Charges of visa cancellation and the process are the employer’s responsibility, reports Gulf News. Your passport should be handed over to you immediately after the completion of cancellation.

Employers forcing employees to leave their passports with the former for purposes of safe keeping or as a guarantee is illegal by UAE labour law, as only a competent court or other federal authority is allowed to keep a worker’s passport.

Companies agreeing to give up passports close to the time of departure from the country are also liable to be punished as this is also considered illegal by UAE law. Employers can only retain an employee’s passport legally while the visa renewal or cancellation is in progress.

So, if you are moving on to a new job in the new UAE or planning to leave the country to set up base at a new destination, our tips will ensure you receive what you are legally entitled to from your employer here in the UAE.

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