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!