Recently, we received a message from one of our readers mentioning that a certain “reputable” company has not paid its workers for more than two months now. Hence, this article seeks to address similar situations, i.e. employers who do not pay their employees on time. We share some tips on your rights as a worker, how to file a complaint, not going absent because of the delay in salary, and even how to gently remind your boss in fulfilling this basic obligation.
Ideally, workers should be receiving their salaries no later than the 10th day of the following month. This was even reiterated in the law on domestic workers issued by His Highness President Khalifa himself. Otherwise, employers would have to pay hefty fines and face stiff sanctions.
Expat Guide: What to Do if Your Employer Doesn’t Pay Your Salary On Time
In 2009, the UAE government introduced the Wages Protection System (WPS) to ensure that workers are paid properly and on time. The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) also issued Ministerial Decree No. 739 of 2016, which stipulates that:
- If the salary has not been paid within 10 days of the due date registered in the WPS, it is considered “late.”
- If the salary has not been paid within one month of the due date, the employer is deemed to be “refusing to pay wages.”
It is important that you are aware where you belong in the above category so that you understand how to position yourself whether you will need to send a reminder to your employer or whether you should file an official complaint about your case.
It is always good to settle disputes internally before raising the concern directly to government authorities. As maybe the delay in salary could be just caused by a misunderstanding or miscommunication.
How to Inform or Remind Your Employer to Pay Your Salary
While it should already be a given for every employer to pay their workers on time, in cases where there might be lapses, it is important that employees should also voice out their concerns and settle this situation prior to going to court. Let us avoid being shy in complaining about this scenario because as an employee, this is part of your right to get your money for your work output. After all, that’s why we’re all working as expats in another country. In case they still
- Send a gentle reminder to your employer via text message or email (if you are able to message them).
- Otherwise, you can directly talk to your supervisor or employer and just inquire if the wage has been deposited to your bank account.
- While being angry or threatening them is not the best approach, you can reason out that “I cannot report to work because I don’t have money for my daily expenses” – this would indirectly show that you to your boss that your need to be able to perform properly at work.
- Some other reasons to say can include: “I don’t have money to send to my family back home for food, my child back in the Philippines does not have allowance”, etc. – this implies that you are a responsible provider for your family and would give more weight to how the delay in salary is affecting not only yourself, but also your dependents.
Depending on the size of the company and the date of payment, you can still try to give the benefit of the doubt to your employer and remind them properly. As we want to avoid creating much conflict in our work environment as possible. If you are reporting to someone, then remind your supervisor.
If there’s still no plan of action or expectation, then you can take it up to the next higher management. The important thing is that you also do your part in reminding them and have proof of these messages. In case you file your complaint, the text messages and emails can be your basis that you’ve properly communicated to your bosses and have made proper notifications beforehand.
How to Make a Complaint
However, if you still did not receive your salary after the reminders, here are the legal steps for you to take:
- Contact the MoHRE helpline on 800 665 or visit the local labour office to get advice and support.
- Accomplish and submit an application form typed in Arabic, which is available in labour offices.
- Submit these documents (which may vary on a case-to-case basis): labour card, Emirates National ID, labour contract, and other documents that you have signed with your employer.
NOTE: Keep in mind that you do not have to surrender your passport unless the court handling the dispute requires you to do so.
Article 155 of the UAE Labour Law states that copies of the written complaint should be given to the employer as well as the labour office. Upon receiving it, the employer should provide a written reply and settle the dispute within seven working days. Otherwise, the case will be handled by the labour office, who will try to mediate between the employer and employee.
If the matter is still not settled within 10 days, the case will be forwarded to a conciliation committee issued by the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs.
Sanctions for Refusing to Pay Wages
Despite all efforts and mediation done by the labour office, what would happen if the employer still refuses to pay wages? There is a FINE involved plus other charges and sacntions. Here are the corresponding penalties / sanctions:
- 16 days after the due date, the MoHRE will stop granting the employer any additional work permits and their license to trade shall be suspended.
- One month after the due date, the ministry will inform other authorities to take “punitive measures.” There will be a complete strike against other companies owned by the employer, who will also be prohibited from registering any new companies.
- 60 days after the due date, the employer will be charged administrative fines, from AED 5,000 per worker’s delayed wage, up to AED 50,000 in cases involving multiple workers.
Businessman Fined for Not Paying Salary of Workers
There was a recent report from the news about an employer who was Fined for not paying his labourers on time. Over 112 Asian workers filed a group labour complaint at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE). The employer ended up with a hefty fine plus other charges because of the many instances and persons in this case. Read about this topic here – Businessman Fined AED 1.12 Million after Workers Complaint of Unpaid Salaries
Every worker is entitled to wage and benefits so make sure that you know your rights as an employee. This is not something you should be embarrassed about when talking to your boss. Learn to speak up and we hope we have shared some valuable details on how to go about in communicating directly or in worse case scenario, taking an action and lodging an official complaint.
Do NOT go Absent or Neglect Your Duties, Do NOT Rant on Social Media, Do NOT Threaten your Employer
Here are a few reminders on how to behave when there is a delay in salary to avoid further complications because of this situation.
- Do NOT go AWOL – Avoid neglecting your duties and responsibilities EVEN IF there is a delay in you salary. Committing an error intentionally because of an error that was made to you is a mistake and not a corrective process. Other than that, your employer can also file a complaint against you and you might get terminated for not fulfilling your obligations. We still need to remain professional despite the circumstance.
- Do NOT rant on Social Media – Also, do not post or rant online and on social media that your boss has delayed the payment of your salary. The UAE has strict social media policies and guidelines and if you cannot resist complaining online, a case might be filed against you.
- Do NOT Threaten Your Employer – Avoid threatening your employer (online). If there is any record that your boss can hold (WhatsApp, Private FB message, or Text message), it can be used against you.
Always keep the communication line professional and file your complaints in the correct channels/authorities. You can also seek legal advice from lawyers for more helpful tips.
Delay in salary should not be a situation that should be taken lightly. Remind yourselves of your worth and why you are here in the UAE. Even if the employer has provided you a job opportunity, you are also giving something in return and working for them should not be for FREE.
Meanwhile, here is a guide on working hours, official leaves, and vacations, based on the UAE Labour Law. Take time to know them so that you can be fully aware and informed!
DISCLAIMER: The topics presented in this article are for information-sharing purposes only. They may be used as a personal guide, but they should not be used as basis for actual labour concerns or legal proceedings. To learn more about the UAE Labour Law, visit the MoHRE official website.