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United Arab Emirates - Substantive requirements for dismissals

Substantive requirements for dismissals (justified and prohibited grounds) - United Arab Emirates - 2013    

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Obligation to provide reasons to the employee: No
  • Upon dismissal, the employer is not required inform the employees of the reasons for dismissal.

Valid grounds (justified dismissal): any fair reasons
  • 1) Ordinary dismissal (with notice)
    Art. 117(1) FLLR provides that either party may terminate an employment contract of indefinite duration for a valid reason at any time after the conclusion of the contract provided that the statutory notice requirements are observed.
    Art. 122 FLLR provides that a dismissal is considered arbitrary if it is grounded on a reason which is not related to the employee's work.
    Note that also redundancy is not referred to in the Law, it has been considered to be a valid reason for termination by the Courts.
    2) Summary dismissal (without notice):
    - In addition, according to art. 120 FLLR, the employer can dismiss an employee without notice in the following circumstances:
    (i) during the employee's probationary period;
    (ii) if the employee assumed a false identity or nationality, or otherwise submits false certificates or documents;
    (iii) if the employee has caused the employer to suffer a material loss (provided that the employer notified the Ministry within 48 hours of discovering such incident);
    (iv) if the employee fails to carry out instructions regarding industrial or workplace safety, provided that such instructions were in writing and posted in an accessible location or, if the employee is illiterate, he or she had been informed of them orally;
    (v) if the employee fails to perform his or her basic duties under the employment contract despite knowledge that he or she will be dismissed if such failure continues;
    (vi) if the employee reveals a 'secret of the establishment';
    (vii) if the employee is found guilty of an offence involving honour, honesty or public morals;
    (viii) if the employee is found, during working hours, in a state of drunkenness or under the influence of narcotic drugs;
    (ix) if the employee, during working hours, assaults his or her employer, manager or any colleagues; or
    (x) if the employee is absent from work, without valid reason, for more than 20 non-consecutive days in one year or more than seven consecutive days.

    Note that a FTC can only be terminated for one of the above listed reasons (those listed in art. 120 FLLR). If a FTC contract is terminated for reasons other than those enumerated in art. 120 of the law, the employer is liable to pay compensation which shall not be more that the wages due for 3 months or for the remaining period, whichever is shorter, unless otherwise provided in the contract (art.115 LC).

Prohibited grounds: filing a complaint against the employer
  • n particular, a termination
    shall be regarded as arbitrary if it is prompted by a formal complaint filed by the
    worker with the competent authorities or a legal action instituted against the
    employer that proved to be valid.

Workers enjoying special protection: workers on temporary leave following an occupational disease or a work injury; national employees
  • - UAE national employees:
    National employee account for a tiny proportion of the workforce in the private sector. [Some sources refer to 0.3%, (see: other to 7 % (see:]
    Article 1 of the Decision 176 states that dismissal of a UAE national employee will be regarded as "illegal" (literally "without legal ground") in one of the following four circumstances:
    On February 2009, a Ministerial Resolution No 176 restricting the conditions for dismissing a UAE national employees was adopted. This decision provides that the dismissal of a UAE national is unlawful in one of the following 4 circumstances:
    1) where the UAE employee is dismissed for reasons other than those mentioned in Article 120 of the FLLR (i.e for reasons other those allowing for summary dismissal);
    2) if it is proven that the employer retains a non-UAE national who is performing work similar to that performed by the dismissed UAE national;
    3) the employer failed to inform the Ministry of Labour 30 days prior to the dismissal, or failed to comply with the Ministry's instructions within the designated times; and
    4) if it is proven that the UAE employee was not paid the full compensation due to him and the payment of his full retirement benefits as specified in the Federal Law on Labour Relations, its implementing regulations, the contract of employment or any other contractually binding document.
    Art. 3 of that Decision sets out the consequence of a violation of the Decision as follows: if the Ministry of Labour considers that the termination of the UAE national was unlawful it will inform the employer as which will then have 15 days to resolve the dispute with the UAE employee according to the directives of the Ministry. If the employer fails to resolve the dispute within this period, the matter is referred immediately to the relevant court and the Ministry will put stop issuing new labour permits (requested by the employer) until the court renders a final judgment in the matter.
    (Note that the Ministerial Decision No. 176/2009 is not available in English but is summarized in Hadef and Partner, "Employment of UAE Nationals", 31 May 2009. The link to this article is provided below under "Scope of additional information")

    - Workers on temporary sick leave:
    The FFLR prohibits the dismissal of a worker on the ground that he or she is medically unfit to work before the worker exhausts all the periods of leave to which he entitled under the law (art. 124). Furthermore, an employer shall not dismiss a worker or serve a notice of dismissal while the worker is on annual leave or sick leave except in circumstances entailing summary dismissal (art. 90 FLLR).