Collecting Everything Due You in the UAE

There have been a series of incidents where schools postponed paying teachers their final pay and severance until the last day of school. In fact, some schools even hold-off until teachers have returned to their country of origin to transfer funds. This practice has lead some teachers to never receive their money. In other words, the school stalls until it’s too late for teachers to have any recourse.

Some schools purposely mislead teachers, telling them they must give up their visa at an early date. In the UAE, and other Gulf nations, when you surrender your visa you also sign a document saying you have been paid in full and owed nothing by your employer. How convenient for the schools–you signed that you have been paid when in fact you have not!

Our contact spoke with Legal Advisors at the Ministry of Labor and learned some very useful information about final pay and visas. If you are working in the UAE and suspect you may not get all that is coming to you, you’ll want to know your rights. It seems there has been quite a bit of abuse by schools in the UAE and the MoL is taking it seriously.

Here’s the word: You do not have to sign any documents to receive your pay and do not have to cancel your visa until you are compensated. In fact, both of these acts would be violations and you could be fined for doing so. The legal advisor explained that if your contract says your school does not have to pay you until the last day of school, you must wait until then, but if you do not receive payment that day, then call the MoL immediately. Our contact reports that the Legal Advisor stated he would personally come to the school to ensure that teachers were paid promptly.

We also learned that you do not have to sign to cancel your visa. The visa is the school’s responsibility and if they want to wait until the end to pay teachers and not leave them enough time to correctly sort out affairs, then it’s not right that a school should expect help from teachers in sorting out their visas. If you do not sign, the school will not be able to replace your visa for a few years. You should be able to use this to negotiate full payment at a reasonable date.

You would think that the practice of cheating teachers out of final pay checks, shipping and travel reimbursement occurs only in a one or two isolated incidences. The fact is, the practice is related in quite a number of reviews on the ISR web site.

Thinking these things only happen to other people allows these practices to persist. Take a tip from the labor unions in the United States–organize and stand together to ensure your school acts within the law. It appears there is accountability!

More About Collecting Your Money in the UAE

Our previous article (above) brought inquiries from UAE teachers who wanted more information about the legality of their schools requiring them to surrender their visas before receiving final pay checks and travel and shipping allowances. The concern is that upon surrendering a visa in the UAE you must sign that all money due you from your employer has been paid in full. Imagine what a dishonest school might do!! More than one has done it already!!!

We decided to contact the Ministry of Labor directly for clarification. To date, we have written twice through their “contact us ” link and so far no reply. We also tried to post our questions to the Ministry of Labor’s FAQ page, but it’s not functioning. The MOL does offer a live chat option on their web site, but the page continually notifies us of the need to activate our cookies. Our cookies are activated and the live chat page still fails to function. We tried with two different computers and three different browsers.

Our next step was to make phone contact. Our UAE contacts had called the MOL. After considerable searching of the government web site we found a list of phone numbers for the various Labor Ministers stationed around the country. The first number (below) wasn’t functioning. So, we tried the next. It rang and rang and and no one answered even though the web site boasts services are available until 7pm.We were calling at 4pm UAE time and figured maybe everyone was in a meeting. We decided to call back the next day, and earlier. This we did and again found the Abu Dhabi number still out of order and the Dubai number endlessly ringing with no answer. We then dialed the next 5 numbers on the list and no one picked-up.

Although we were yet unable to contact any one at the MOL by email or phone, we did find the following reassuring statement on the their web site.

Dear customers..
MOL is pleased to inform that our customer service timing have been extended to 11 hours. The new timings are 8:00 AM to 7 PM

In the fast world of data and information transmission, a vital ministry like the Ministry of Labor cannot separate itself from the constant expansion of the e-services.

To adminster the labour market in the country with high efficiency and to cater for improving and developing the labour market within the framework of supporting the development efforts and achieving stablity for the nationals. This is done through creating the work environment distinguished by its efficiency and higher quality and social integrity to achieve the balance between the interests of the workers, employers and the society as a whole.

In all fairness, everyone could have been out to lunch when we called. So we waited until the next day and began calling again. Based on our calculations it was 3 pm in the UAE when we called. Still no answer. 

For some insight into the legal system in the UAE, you may want to review Dr. Spilchuk’s April ’09 column

Ministry of Labor Phone Numbers

Below is a list of phone numbers for the Ministry of Labor offices located around the UAE.We hope you have good luck in making contact as did the teachers that emailed us the visa information for our previous article. If you are able to make contact and have some information to share, please be sure to contact us

Place FAX No. Telephone No. Box No.
Ministry of Labour – Abu Dhabi +9712 6665889 +9712 4183888 809
Ministry of Labour – Dubai +9714 2668967 +9714 7023333 5025
Labour office – Ajman +9716 7400555 +9716 7400444 881
Labour office – Umm Al-Qiwain +9716 7662426 +9716 7660159 6
Labour office – Ras Al Khaima +9717 2335584 +9717 2337000 116
Labour office – Al Fujaira +9719 2229340 +9719 2243888 222
Labour office – Khor Fakkan +9719 2386484 +9719 2383922 9990
Labour office – Kalba +9719 2774276 +9719 2777956 123
Labour office – Al-Ain +9713 7629777 +9713 7629999 1005
Labour office – Bedaa Zaid +9712 8841330 +9712 8841412 50017
Labour office – Dalma +9712 8781187 +9712 8781134 123
Labour office – Sharjah +9716 5660369 +9716 5669777 301