Know your legal rights when it comes to working in the UAE.
Question: I am an Indian expat living in Sharjah. My company closed down six months ago due to some financial problems. I am living in a studio apartment that costs Dh30,000 a year. As I am unable to pay the rent, my house owner is asking me to do odd jobs for him like picking up his kids, and running other errands. He does not pay me anything, but has promised to write off the rent. However, I don’t have any documents to prove that I am working for him. Will this land me in legal trouble?
Pursuant to your query, it should be noted that it is illegal and a punishable offence to work in the UAE without a valid work permit issued by the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation (the MOHRE). This is in accordance with Federal Law No. (6) of 1973 and its subsequent amendment by Law No. (13) of 1996 and Law No. 7 of 2007 (the Immigration Law) and Federal Law No. (8) of 1980 regulating employment relations in the UAE (the Employment Law).
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Article 13 of Employment Law states: “No non-national may be recruited for work in the UAE without the prior approval of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and without first obtaining a work permit in accordance with the procedures and regulations laid down by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.
“Such permit shall not be granted unless the following conditions are fulfilled:
1-That the employee possesses the professional competence or educational qualification which the country is in need of;
2-That the employee has lawfully entered the country and satisfies the conditions prescribed in the residence regulations in force in the State.”
In furtherance, Article 11 of the Immigration Law states: “The foreigner who obtains a visit visa may not work anywhere in the country with or without pay or on his own. If the visa is issued to work for an individual or an establishment, the holder may not work for another individual or establishment without the written consent of that individual or establishment and the approval of the General Directorate of the Residency and Foreigners Affairs.”
Based on the aforementioned provisions of law, whosoever employs an individual without the prior approval of the MOHRE and without a work permit shall be committing a punishable offence. This is in accordance with Federal Decree Law No. (7) of 2007, which amended certain provisions of Federal Law No. (6) of 1973. A fine of Dh50,000 per employee has been prescribed, in the event the MOHRE finds any employer employing an individual without a work permit. Should the employer repeat the said offence, a fine of Dh100,000 per employee has been prescribed.
Further, the table attached to Ministerial Resolution No. (851) or 2001 regarding penal sanctions stipulated for the violations under the laws and resolutions in force, states that an employer may be imprisoned for six months for employing individuals who are under the sponsorship of others in the UAE as mentioned in Immigration Law. Upon repeated violations, expatriate employers will be deported and banned for life from entering the UAE. In the event the employers are UAE nationals, they may have to undergo imprisonment for six months.
In view of the foregoing, it may be prudent on your part to note that irrespective of whether or not you are in possession of any documentary evidence to prove that you are working for your landlord, both of you may be held guilty of a punishable offence as you don’t have a MOHRE permit.
Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom and India. Full details of his firm on: www.amalawyers.com. Readers may e-mail their questions to: email@example.com or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.