What are an employee's rights if they feel threatened at work?
Dubai: Workers in the UAE are protected under various provisions within UAE's laws, including the Labour Law as well as the Federal Penal Code. Whether you are facing unfair practices at work or are worried about your safety, UAE's authorities have also set up various support services to provide individuals with the necessary information about these laws and how they can take action to protect their rights.
A Gulf News reader, who said that she was facing harassment at the workplace, wrote in asking what her rights are, according to the UAE's laws.
The reader wrote: "I am working in a private company in the UAE. I would like to know if an employee is liable to convey the residential address to his or her employer. Does the employer have the right to know the address of home or place where an employee is living? Also, does the employer have the right to follow or trace the employee in order to know the employee's residential address?
"I have been working in a company for the past two years. The employer asked me to keep a personal relationship with him apart from my work. When I refused, he tried his best to put pressure on me by increasing my workload, so that I would resign from my job. Since then, he has been asking me, directly and indirectly, for my residential address, and I do not know the reason behind this request. Sometimes he sends different staff members - who are also his relatives - to follow me discreetly. However, I have observed them following me many times. I would like to know what my rights are, according to Labour Law. How can I overcome this problem? I don't want any conflict or legal hurdles, because my contract is going to end in two months and I do not want any issues with my gratuity."
Gulf News raised the issue with Dr Hassan Elhais, legal consultant at Dubai-based Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal consultants, who spoke about how employers are entitled to maintain certain records of their employees, as per the UAE Labour Law.
Article 53 of the UAE Labour Law states that an employer employing five or more workers shall observe the following:
Keep a personal file for each worker, mentioning the worker's name, profession or occupation, age, nationality, address, marital status, date of employment, wage and any adjustment thereto, penalties inflicted thereupon, occupational injuries and diseases sustained thereby as well as the date of termination of service and reasons thereof.
"From the aforesaid provision of the Labour Law, it is understood that the employer is under an obligation as per the UAE Labour Law to maintain records and files regarding each of his employees, including their residential address. Whereas there is no provision in the Labour Law that the employer may follow the employee to ascertain his residential address, the employer may verify the residential address, should the employee upon declaration of such residential address consent for internal or third party verification, as may be required per the due diligence or background check process subject to the internal policies of the employer."
Stalking not acceptable
However, Elhais stressed that any behaviour that leads to harassment of an individual is dealt with strictly under the UAE's Penal Code. "Excessive annoyance of a person by repeating acts, words, signals that would molest them, for the purpose of pushing them to respond to their own sexual desires or the desires of others is a punishable offense with an imprisonment up to one year and a fine up to Dh10,000. You may submit a complaint to the police and accordingly the prosecution and criminal courts have the discretion to evaluate the evidence on record and deliver their decision in the matter."
Excessive annoyance of a person by repeating acts, words,
signals that would molest them, for the purpose of pushing them to
respond to their own sexual desires or the desires of others is a
punishable offense with an imprisonment up to one year and a fine
up to Dh10,000.
- Dr Hassan Elhais, legal consultant at Dubai-based Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal consultants
Quitting due to harassment
Dr. Elhais also clarified that the UAE Labour Law has provisions for employees, who can leave a work contract in certain situations. "As per Article 121 of the UAE Labour Law, if the employer or its legal representative has assaulted the employer, the employee may leave the work without notice. When the conduct of the employer leads to the employee resigning from work, such a termination of the employment contract by the employer shall be considered wrongful termination and the employee shall be entitled to claim compensation from the employer along with end-of-service benefits. In the event the employer refuses to make payments towards your gratuity and compensation entitlements, you may complain to the relevant Labour department and subsequently proceed with the registration of a court case before the Labour Courts to claim your entitlements," he added.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.