One of the most perplexing aspects that an employee comes across during their period of employment in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the concept of labour ban, and the difference between the immigration ban and labour ban, and their implications. If you are a resident of the UAE, it is necessary to understand how these bans can also affect one’s residency visa status.
In UAE, an employer has the right to apply to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) for imposing a labour ban against the employee under certain circumstances as provided by the provisions of the Federal Law Number 8 of 1980 Concerning the Regulation of Labour Relations (the Labour Law) and Ministerial Decrees issued by the MoHRE on Employment-related rules and regulations. A labour ban essentially implies that a person who is imposed with a labour ban is restricted from working in UAE for a stipulated period or in some cases permanently.
The duration of the labour ban can last from a period of six (6) months to one (1) year. Precisely, attaining a new work permit is only possible after the expiry of the period of such labour ban, or as per the applicable provisions on the lifting of such ban before the end of the period for which such labour ban was issued.
Whereas, the immigration (travel) ban is issued by the Ministry of Interior, to bar a person who is found to be involved in any illegal or unlawful activities, from entering or re-entering or leaving the country. For instance, an immigration ban is imposed on a person in cases of an ongoing criminal investigation or bounced cheque, or even an employer can apply for an immigration ban on an employee who has not shown up to work for a prolonged period without notifying the employer.
Unlike the immigration ban which restricts the person from entering the country or obtaining any kind of visa option to stay in the UAE, a labour ban will not have any such effect on one’s immigration, as that person is only restricted from obtaining an employment visa and as long as that person is under a sponsorship visa, their residency visa remains unaffected too. They can further apply for jobs at the sectors where a MoHRE work permit is not required, like free zone companies. This article intends to elucidate on all the relevant laws governing the labour ban for the employees working in UAE in a manner providing answers to the basic queries one might have with regards to the same.
A Labour ban is meant to be imposed on any person who breaches either the terms of the employment contract or the provisions of the Labour Law. Whether skilled or unskilled workers, as long as they hold valid work permits like employment residency visas, labour permits, labour cards or a labour contract, can fall under the possibility of being issued with the labour ban. This implies that as long as any person who can violate any provisions of the Labour Law or the Ministerial Decrees issued by the Ministry of Labour can be imposed with a labour ban.
In general, the labour ban is issued by the MoHRE, but where it is a matter of serious criminal offence, illegal entry or security issues, such a ban is issued by the General Directorate of Foreign Affairs (GDRFA). Grounds on which a Labour Ban can be Initiated: An employer can apply to the MoHRE for a labour ban on the employee under the following circumstances:
Article 120 of the Labour Law provides the following reasons under which an employer is entitled to dismiss the employee without giving any prior notice:
On applying for a labour ban, the legal researcher in MoHRE will conduct a thorough investigation of the case, where both the employer and employee are allowed to give their statements. Thereafter, the legal researcher shall evaluate the reasons presented and accordingly if satisfied, shall impose a labour ban on the employee or can reject where the reasons are not satisfactory. However, the employee still has an option of objecting to such a labour ban by submitting his/her grievance to the MoHRE and filing a necessary lawsuit. The employee contesting such a labour ban is required to attach all the supporting documents proving that such a labour ban is arbitrary and vague. Thereafter, the MoHRE shall form a special committee which is headed by the undersecretary and some of the directors of the relevant departments to analyze the request. Accordingly, based upon their conclusion they may either lift the ban or keep the ban active.
However, according to the Ministerial Decree Number 766 of 2015 as amended by the Ministerial Decree Number 1094 of 2016 on the Rules and Conditions for Granting a Permit to a Worker for Employment by a New Employer, an employee is entitled to receive a new work permit upon their termination in the following circumstances:
However, this same rule is not applicable in cases if such employees fall under the following categories:
Likewise, if the employer prefers to terminate the employment contract without any reasons on the part of the employee, then such employee is exempted from labour ban, as long as they have worked for the employer for six (6) months, subject to the same exceptions as stated above. The same rules shall be applicable in the case of an unlimited employment contract.
Article 4 of the Ministerial Resolution Number 1186 of 2010 states that a work permit can be granted to an employee, even if such employee has not met the requirement of working for the employer for two (2) years if such employee:
However, for both limited or unlimited employment contracts, a new work permit can be granted irrespective of the above-stated requirements in cases where:
Labour ban now can be lifted or be avoided in line with provisions of the ministerial Decree Number 1094 of 2016 and Ministerial Resolution Number 1186 of 2010 where it gives preference to workers with educational qualifications. Thereby, upon obtaining consent from the employer and serving the mutually agreed notice period, an employee can break the employment contract even before the completion of six (6) months, without the fear of being imposed with the labour ban. However, that is the same when it comes to workers belonging to skill levels 4 and 5 unless they fall under the exceptions stated above.