In the UAE, the employer has the discretion to frame disciplinary rules for its employees.
My manager obtained my sign on a document last week. I unwillingly signed the undertaking related to conditions which may lead to issuing warning letter or termination of my employment for using phone or watching social media while at work, not taking call from the manager during office hours and not completing the task on the same day. As an employee, I am eager to know the legal repercussions of signing such a document.
We assume that your employment with your employer is governed by the provisions of the Federal Law No. (8) of 1980 regulating employment relations in the UAE (the ‘Employment Law’).
In the UAE, the employer has the discretion to frame disciplinary rules for its employees which needs to be followed during office hours.
The employer may submit the disciplinary code of conduct to the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiritisation (the ‘MOHRE’) for its approval. This is in accordance with Article 2 of the Ministerial Order No. 28/1 of 1981 regarding Mode Disciplinary Code, a guide to employees in making disciplinary regulations applied in their undertaking.
It states: “Every employer shall submit to the competent labour branch in the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MOHRE), the disciplinary regulations proposed to be applied to employees working in his undertakings so as to be approved by the said labour branch before such proposal comes into force; and every employer shall secure such approval to any amendments he introduces on the regulation before such amendments come into force.”
However, as you have already signed the disciplinary undertaking (document), it is implied that you have accepted the terms and conditions mentioned therein.
Therefore, your employer may exercise its rights if you violate the signed disciplinary undertaking as mentioned in Article 102 of the Employment Law, which states: “The disciplinary penalties that an employer or his representatives may impose on the employee shall be as follows:
- a warning; 2. a fine; 3. suspension from work with reduced pay for a period not exceeding 10 days; 4. forfeiture or promotion, in establishments having a promotion scheme; 5. dismissal without prejudice to severance pay; 6. dismissal with forfeiture of all or part of the severance pay.
This penalty may only be imposed on the ground expressly specified in Article 120 of this law.”
Prior to imposing the aforementioned penalties, the employee should be notified in writing regarding the disciplinary charges against him. The same needs to be internally investigated by the employer after providing the employee a fair chance to defend himself. This is in accordance with Article 110 of the Employment Law which states: “None of the penalties stipulated in Article 102 may be imposed on an employee until he has been notified in writing of the charges against him, heard and allowed to have his defence investigated, and until all this has been entered in a special minutes to be placed in his personal file, with the penalty mentioned at the end of such minutes.
An employee shall be notified in writing of any penalties imposed on him, and of the nature and amount thereof, the reasons for their imposition, and the penalty to which he will be liable if he is to repeat the offence.”
Further, it may be noted that as per Article 111 of the Employment Law an employee may not be charged with a disciplinary offence after the lapse of more than 30 days from the date of the offence being detected nor may he/she be imposed a disciplinary penalty after the lapse of more than 60 days once the enquiry is conducted by the employer where an employee was already found guilty.
An individual in the UAE cannot force or coax anyone to sign a document or sign on a plain paper as it is a criminal offence. This is in accordance with Article 397 of Federal Law No. (3) of 1987 on issuance of the penal code which states: “Shall be sanctioned to term imprisonment, whoever obtains by force or threat a deed, a signature on it, amendment or cancellation thereof or destruction.”
Therefore, you may initiate a criminal complaint against your employer by approaching the public prosecutor or the police station if you can prove that you were forced to sign on the document.
Know the law
Prior to imposing penalties, the employee should be notified in writing regarding the disciplinary charges against him.