Can Abu Dhabi school manager be forced to take unpaid leave?

I work as a senior manager at a private school. I’m on a monthly salary and discovered they have put me on an unlimited employment contract. I have been there for less than six months and have just been told that I am not entitled to my salary during the summer months when they close. The Ministry of Labour told me, however, that an employee cannot be forced to take unpaid leave. The school told me article 75 allows them to do so. I had a look at the Ministry website and I see nothing that speaks about this. Who is right? CW, Abu Dhabi

In this case the Ministry of Labour is correct. Article 75 of the law is about the minimum amount of annual leave a person must be given so I presume the employer is attempting to claim that their actions are in accordance with Article 76. This states: “The employer may at his discretion determine the date for commencement of annual leaves and, when necessary, he may decide to divide the leave in two parts at the most, except in cases of juveniles where vacation may not be divided in parts.” Either way, the employer cannot choose to just not pay someone for a period of time. Anyone working at a school, whether on a limited or unlimited contract, should be paid every single month, unless there is a contract agreed by both parties to this effect. An employer would need to make someone redundant, with the correct notice period and cancel their visa if they did not want to pay them. There are costs for the employer in doing that and then rehiring someone for the position when school starts again so it would be a pointless exercise. CW should register a case against the school at the Ministry or via a labour office.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 20 years’ experience. Contact her at Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE.

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only.

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