The UAE (in terms of employment and labour) has absconders which are people who run away from their work without notice and without properly resigning. For whatever reason that workers don’t go back to their sponsor/employer, it is important that you avoid this.
Many expats might do this without knowing what absconding means and what are the consequences/penalties. So it is important that you know what this means and it is essential for you to avoid this. Here’s everything you need to know about “absconding” in the country.
What is “absconding”?
Based on the definition given by the UAE Labour Law, absconding means not reporting for work for more than 7 days without a valid reason. If you are aware of the term “AWOL” (absence without leave), which is a term used by many countries when an employee skips going to work for more than a week, the same definition applies to absconding.
In the UAE, absconding comes with proper reporting procedures, penalties, amnesty programs, and conditions that are unaccepted by the Ministry of Labour. Since it is important in the eyes of law, you should be aware of these things as an expat working in the UAE.
How to properly report an expat who absconded from work?
For employers who have employees who absconded, they may do the following procedures to formally report those employees.
- Fill out and submit the absconding report to the Ministry of Labour.
- Submit evidence that your company has no pending labour fees and that the company has paid all the previous fees due to the employee.
- Give a bank guarantee worth AED 3,000 for each employee who absconded from work.
- Tell the Labour Inspection Administration of the Ministry of Labour about the whereabouts of the employee in case you know where he/she is currently staying. This information will help the authorities investigate and build the details of the case.
What are the penalties if you absconded from work?
- If the absconding report submitted by your employer is fictitious, he/she will be fined AED 10,000.
- If you, an employee, is caught working for a new employer and your previous employer did not report your absconding for more than 3 months, you will bear the following punishments: canceled sponsorship, labour ban in the UAE for a year, your employer will pay AED 10,000 as a penalty and additional sponsorship cancellation fees, and travel expenses for you, and your employer will receive more severe punishments if caught violating the labour laws.
- If the absconding report of your employer is fake, you will be banned from working in the UAE without the ability to lift it. Your employer will also pay AED 10,000 and other fees and the company will be closed down.
- If the absconding report is withdrawn or canceled, the employer will not be able to refund the bank guarantee.
What are the terms to refund a bank guarantee?
The employer will only be able to refund the bank guarantee if the employee is proven to have left the UAE or if three years have elapsed since the submission of the absconding report. If the labour card has expired, the employer can also file a claim for a refund.
Are there cases that the Ministry of Labour will not accept the absconding report?
Yes, there are cases that are deemed unacceptable in the eyes of law. These are the following conditions:
- The absconding report is fictitious in order to skip paying the employee of benefits after the end of the contract.
- The absconding report is vexatious in order to avoid the obligations of the employer to compensate a worker who is still working for the company.
- The employee is absent due to valid reasons and the leave days are less than 7 days.
- The employee has filed a complaint against the employer or he has a pending claim known by the Ministry of Labour.
- The employee is on vacation.
- Force majeure.
Can I withdraw the absconding report as an employee?
Yes, you can. You can withdraw the absconding report submitted by your employer if the following conditions are met.
- There is insufficient evidence that the employee absconded from work.
- If the report is proven to be fictitious.
- If the report is proven to be vexatious
When you withdraw the absconding report, no fees will be imposed on you or your employer. You can also cancel your labour card and apply for a new one so you can work for a new employer. This is the current amnesty program offered by the UAE government for those who have been victimized by the false absconding reports. If you think you are in the same situation, you can withdraw the report.
Why is it important to know what absconding is?
Simply because employers are using this to abuse their employees. Absconding is only valid if the employee intentionally did not go to work for more than 7 days. However, there are some cases that employers will file the absconding report even if the employee is still working in the company. Some reasons might include your employer not wanting to pay your salary or compensation or he doesn’t want to be obligated to take care of you as an employee. Should these instances become known to you, you should immediately withdraw the report and file a complaint.
“Absconding” is a significant term in the UAE and it has a separate section in the UAE Labour Law. If you are an expat currently working in the country, you should be aware of the importance of this term. You can avoid paying fines, dealing with your previous employer, and talking to the Ministry of Labour for complaints if you know how to manage your employment. You should take this seriously and you should also watch out for employers who use absconding to abuse their employees. Share this with your friends and colleagues so they can be informed as well!
Amnesty Program for Absconders
On another note, the UAE at times also conducts amnesty initiatives. These “amnesty programs” can be availed by expats and this allows expats to avoid any penalties for overstaying in the UAE after their visas have expired. This is also applicable to workers who have absconded from their jobs and have overstayed in the country.
While the program is gladly welcomed by illegal occupants, you should not rely on amnesty to save your situation. If you don’t want to report to work, just file your resignation. After all, you’ve been brave enough to leave your home in order to work in another country. Try to muster the courage to resign properly and professionally.