Sunday, December 28, 2008

Firms Can’t Use Article 120 to Avoid Paying Workers’ Dues

ABU DHABI - Firms are not allowed to invoke Article 120 of the Labour Law to terminate the services of workers without clearing their financial dues and end-of-services benefits, said a senior official at the Ministry of Labour (MoL).
Mohammad Al Zaabi, Director of Disputes Department in the MoL, told Khaleej Times on Thursday that the companies are not allowed to do that because the law defines specific cases of termination under Article 120.
Workers, whose services are terminated for no fault or the cases listed in Article 120, should lodge complaints with the Labour Office.
The provision can be applied only in the case of workers who have indulged in gross irregularities.
But some companies, especially in the construction sector, are reportedly invoking this provision to terminate workers in order to avoid paying their legitimate compensation and dues.
The employees would even find it difficult to get alternative employment if they are terminated under this provision.
“In such cases, the ministry will investigate the complaints and if the employers are at fault, we will report to the top officials to fix the penalties,” said Al Zaabi.
If the violators refuse to settle the cases and pay the workers their dues as per the articles of normal terminations, the ministry will refer the complaint to the court, he added.
Meanwhile, workers, whose cases are referred to court, are allowed a six-month temporary work permit from the MoL if they find jobs in other companies.
A Dubai-based contracting company in Jebel Ali had recently issued termination notices to 41 people under this provision.
Khaleej Times is in possession of the general notice, but the company has sought time till Sunday next to give its side of the story.
It remains to be seen how many employees will file a complaint with the MoL.
When Khaleej Times tried to speak to some of those who had received termination notices, they insisted that their names be not published.
Most of them were apprehensive that such a step could make their position more insecure even when they are seeking alternative employments.
They were also worried that the companies might delay or deny their dues, if they resort to legal recourse.

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