Labor Bans in the UAE

While considered taboo in a number of regions and countries around the world, labor bans are alive and well in the United Arab Emirates, where there are two types of visa related bans (labor bans and immigration bans). As a country where the majority of workers are actually expatriates, this can result in some major concerns for employees looking to work in the UAE.

The Ministry for Human Resources and Emiratisation has made suggestions that they may issue a labor ban prohibiting or restricting an employee from working for another company in the UAE. These bans range in length from a period of one year, up to an indefinite ban. If the ban is set for a predetermined length of time, after the completion of the time period, the ban is automatically lifted, and the employee may begin to work again. This legislation has been created with the idea that the rights and interests of both the employee and employer will be protected based on these laws.

A labor ban may be enacted if an employee breaks the terms listed within a limited contract, or if they ‘abscond’ from their position. All employees in the UAE are required to provide reasonable notice if they can no longer work. It is important to note that this is the case regardless of whether the employee’s immigration or residency is dependent on the sponsorship of the employer or not. In the UAE, absconding is defined by the employee not reporting for work for more than 7 consecutive days, or by taking days of leave without notifying the employer for up to 20 days in a calendar year.

Absconding is not something that is taken lightly in the UAE. If an employee absconds from their position, they will be issued a minimum labor ban of at least one year where they cannot work in the UAE in any position or for any company. This may in turn put the employee’s immigration or residency status in jeopardy as well.

While it makes sense that an employee who takes part in any criminal law activities, or an employee who breaches the terms of their contracts, should be disciplined, up to and including termination as deemed necessary by the employer, labor bans can prove to be unusually harsh as well. It goes without saying that if an employee enters an employment agreement with the best of intentions and follows through on the agreements made with their employer, then a lengthy labor ban will be an unlikely situation that they must deal with in the future. However, for employees who are going out of their way to take part in criminal activities or knowingly breach their employment contracts, maybe the UAE is taking the best corrective action to ensure that they are not working in the country at all.

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