Withholding the passports of the employees is a very common practice in UAE. Employees from other countries are facing severe issues with their employers when they ask for the return of their passports. But what is there in the Employment law is completely against the employers wish. Let us see what different acts of UAE law states about Employment relations.
With the relevant provisions of UAE law only judicial authorities have the right of withholding the passport of any foreign employee without their consent.
In the year 2002 the Ministry of Interior (Mol) released the circular no.267 of 2002 which admitted that an employer holding the passport of his employee without the employee’s consent is unlawful. However, if any employee goes along with handing over his passport to his/her employer, then it will not be considered as unlawful as the employee did it consensually.
But it should be done in writing and the employer must agree to handover the passport back to the employee whenever he requests it.
In addition, According to the employment law of 1980 if the person is an employer of a Dubai based company which is in the main land, the provisions of federal law no. (8) of 1980 shall also be applicable. If any employee got terminated by his employer on the grounds of demanding return of his passport, then termination would be considered as arbitrary termination.
According to the Article 122 of the Employment law, which states: “A worker’s service shall be deemed to be arbitrarily terminated by his employer if the reason for termination is irrelevant to the work. More particularly, a termination shall be regarded as arbitrary if it is prompted by a formal complaint filed by the worker with the competent authorities or a legal action instituted against the employer that proved to be valid.”
So, in accordance with the circular that mentioned earlier and the Employment law, the employee has all the rights to ask for the return of his/her passport and to get it from the employer.
If the employer rejects the employee’s return request, refuses to return the passport and threatens the employee by indicating a subsequent termination, then the employee can file a complaint against his/her employer at a nearby police station. He/she can also approach the Ministry of Human resources & Emiratisation.