An employer is responsible for bearing the cost of repatriating an employee upon termination of contract in the UAE, a legal expert has said.
Many expats have recently faced job losses due to the impact of Covid-19 on the economy and they wish to leave for good through special evacuation flights.
In such cases of termination of job contract, the provisions of the Federal Law number 8 of 1980 states the repatriation expenses of an employee shall generally be borne by the employer, said Ashish Mehta, founder and managing partner, Ashish Mehta & Associates.
“According to Article 131 of the Employment Law, the employer shall, upon the termination of the contract, bear the expenses of repatriation of an employee to the location from which he is hired, or to any other location agreed upon between the parties.”
Mehta added that should an employee, upon the termination of contract, be employed by another employer, then the latter shall be liable for the repatriation expenses upon the end of his service.
“If an employer doesn’t repatriate an employee and not pay the expenses, the competent authority shall do so at the expense of the employer. The authority may recover the expenses by means of attachment.”
However, if an employee has lost the job due to his/her fault then he/she shall bear expenses provided they have means to do so.
Such job loss happens if the employee has submitted fake certificates or documents, committed fraud, error resulting in loss to company, violated safety norms, failed to perform duties, revealed secrets of the firm, gets convicted, assault other employees, is found drunk at work or absent without reason for more than seven consecutive days.
Financially-hit employers in a spot
Khaleej Times has learnt that company owners, who ran into bad times, are not in a position to help their employees but promise to do their best.
Owner of a transportation services firm said he is unable to foot the bill of airfare for his employees who seek to leave. “All of us are in a spot. I understand their state of mind. They wish to leave as it’s hard for me to pay salary. I have no business for months now. I don’t see demand rising. We are struggling for survival. I will try my level best to help my four employees who wish to leave.”
Another employer of a cleaning company said he had placed his staff on unpaid leave but with their full consent and they were free to return home. “This is a temporary phase. If they wish to leave, they can. They can return after 3-4 months. Their jobs are still valid. I will try and help them with airfares. I hope it’s reasonable rates. We have to get through this phase.”
Jobless, stranded people live on hope
Workers who lost jobs are counting on their companies to release funds on time to book tickets.
Mohamed A., a worker who lost his job, is living at the mercy of his building watchman.
“I have spent more than 30 years here. I have lived prudently but wasn’t prepared for this phase of unexpected job loss and having to think about daily survival. I lost my bed space and now living on rooftop tin-sheeted room thanks to my building watchman. I can’t afford to pay for screening or airfare. I hope my company will pay me on time. Talks are going on, I hope help comes soon,” the 55-year-old Indian said.
Another case is Akbar, who came on visit visa and is stuck here. He is now supported by social workers for daily food. “I don’t have any money. I reached out to social workers for food so that I can stay alive. How can I ask them to pay my airfare? I request the government to consider our case,” Akbar said.