How to Avoid an Employment Ban in UAE

Switching jobs may be more difficult for expats in the UAE due to certain labor laws. One of these is the employment ban, which prevents expats from easily applying for another job. If an employee wants to leave his present employer without fulfilling a minimum two years of service, he can be prevented from applying for other workabroad for a set period of time.

The standard period is six months as implemented by the Ministry of Labor, but this can be extended to a year if requested by the employer. Employers can request a one year ban if an employee resigns before fulfilling the terms of their agreed-upon contract. Additionally, an employee may also be permanently banned if he has absconded (or gone AWOL), or is found to have violated the labor law.

A new government ruling in 2011 stated that employer consent would not be needed if the employee has already completed two years of service. Yet to the complaints of many expats, one can still be subjected to the ban provided one’s employer does not give consent. So how can you avoid an employment ban in the first place?

It is still possible for an expat to switch jobs even after being saddled with an employment ban. The ban can be lifted if the expat has at least a high school diploma, and is offered a good position and salary by the company he plans to move to. Take note that the minimum salary level required to lift the ban varies based on one’s educational level:
    •    AED 5,000 for high school diploma holders
    •    AED 7,000 for post-secondary school diploma holders
    •    AED 12,000 for Bachelor degree holders

Another way is to move to a job at a Government, Semi-Government or Free Zone Company. The first two are self-explanatory; as for free zones, these are areas with their own policy framework for customs, imports and tax. Alternatively, the employee can also seek work at another company that his previous employer owns or is a shareholder of. This means the employee’s sponsor remains the same, even if he has changed jobs.

However, note that these cases still require a no objection certificate (NOC) from one’s previous employer. This certificate is evidence that the employee no longer has any pending obligations to his employer, and is permitted to apply for other workabroad. Therefore, it would be wise to remain on good terms with one’s employer, even after having decided to change jobs.

On the other hand, there are also situations where an employee was not involved in ending his work contract. These can involve the employer violating any legal obligations to the employee, or the company closing down. In such instances, the employee may change jobs as long as he files a complaint with the Ministry of Labor first. The Ministry will then review the complaint and decide whether or not to impose a ban on the employee.