Is the employer required to pay the Repatriation expenses of employees?
Should you receive Repatriation Expenses?
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Couple of months back I received an email from an employee working in an LLC company that he was terminated by the company citing the downturn in business and wanted to know whether his repatriation expenses would be borne by the employer. Although I had read about repatriation expenses under UAE Labour Law, I could not answer him immediately as I could not recall immediately the related clauses.
What is Repatriation Expense?
Under the UAE Labour Law, repatriation expenses means Travel Ticket (air ticket) as per the employees contract for himself and the family and also costs of the luggage.
When I got some free time, I read the UAE Labour Law and related clauses and the Law clearly has provided various measures under Article 131 and here is an excerpt:
Expenses for repatriation of an employee to his place of origin or any other place agreed upon by both parties shall be borne by the employer. If the employee after the end of his contract takes up employment somewhere else, repatriation expenses upon termination of his service shall be paid by the last employer subject to the provisions in the preceding clauses, and if the employer has failed to repatriate the employee and has not paid the repatriation expenses, the competent authorities shall do this at the employer's expense by way of attachment. If the cause for termination of contract is attributed to the employee, his repatriation will be arranged at his own expense if he has the mean to pay.
ARTICLE (131) (REPEATED)
(Added by Federal Law No. (12) of 1986.)
1. In application of the provisions stated in the preceding clause, the expenses of employer's repatriation shall mean the cost of his travel ticket and whatever is provided for in the employment contract or in the bylaws of the Establishment, such as the employee's entitlement to travel tickets for his family and costs for shipment of his luggage.
2. In the cases where the employer provides the employee with accommodation, the employee shall be obliged to vacate the accommodation within a period not to exceed thirty days from the date of his service termination.
3. The employee may not delay vacation of accommodation, thereafter, for any reason whatsoever, provided that the employer fulfils his obligation towards the employee with respect to the followings:
a. Expenses defined in Clause (1) under this Article.
b. End of service remuneration and any other dues assumed by the employer under the employment contract or the bylaws or the Law.
4. However, if the employer raised a dispute with respect to the amount of expenses and dues referred to above; the competent labour Department shall determine urgently the amount of such expenses and dues, within one week of a notification being sent to it, provided always that after such determination is made by the Labour Dept. the employee must be informed forthwith.
5. In such a case, the validity of the thirty days period referred to in Clause 2 under this Article, shall take effect from the date, the employer deposits the expenses and dues determined by the labour Department, with the treasury of Labour Dept. as a trust.
If however the employee has failed to vacate the accommodation after expiry of the said thirty days, the Labour Department, in cooperation with the competent authorities in the concerned Emirate, will take the necessary administrative action to secure vacation.
6. No provisions under this Article is deemed to prejudice the right of employee to litigate thereabout before the competent court.
(Added by Federal Law No. (14) of 1999.)
1. Employer shall undertake to submit a bank guarantee to the competent labour department. The type, amount, procedures and companies and establishments subject to this condition, as well as other relevant provisions shall be defined by a Cabinet Resolution. Such guarantee shall be for the good performance of the employer's obligations stipulated in Articles 131 and 131-a herein.
2.Deduction of amounts from the bank guarantee mentioned in para (1) of present article shall be by virtue of a court judgement, except for the following:
1. Return expenses of the employee to his home country or wherever as agreed with employer.
2. Amounts acknowledged by employer before the competent labour department as entitlements of employee. In both cases, the Ministry may deduct such entitlements from the guarantee referred to in Para (1) hereof and pay the same to the employee to settle his dues.
If you read through this, you will notice that Labour Law sets out clearly who should bear Repatriation expenses and at what circumstances!
Explanation of the Repatriation Expenses Article
Article 131 clearly explains that, employer is required to pay the Repatriation expenses. If the employee has been terminated and has secured employment somewhere else, the previous employer should bear the expense of repatriation. If the employer has failed in this, MOL or other Authority will recover this.
If the cause of termination is employee, then the employee shall be responsible for his repatriation expenses.
If employer provides accommodation facility to employee, then the employee will have up to 30 days to vacate the accommodation upon termination of employment. Employee should not delay the accommodation unless employer has fulfilled his obligations such as Gratuity (EOSB).
Rest of the clauses are easy enough to understand and interpret.
It is important that you as an employee or employer should know your obligations and must follow UAE Labour Law at all times.
Have you faced any such issues?? Do let me know.