UAE company must be give worker being hired time to review details of employment contract

I worked a few years ago in Dubai and am now back on a tourist visa for a job search. I have received an offer letter but it isn’t signed as the HR director is away. I sent them my passport copy for visa processing (without receiving a contract) and they have now asked me to start working on Sunday. They have said they will give me the contract to sign at the same time and that they will file an employment visa application online. How can I explain that I need at least 24 hours to review the contract details before signing? Is it legal that I may start working before my employment visa is approved by the UAE government and issued? Do you advise against me attending the office to work before the employment visa is received? VS, Ukraine

It is not right to expect anyone to agree to take up a job offer without providing them with a contract of employment with all the relevant terms before they start. I would also be highly suspicious of any employer wanting to do this, as it looks as if they have something to hide. All employees should be given time to review an offer of employment and ask questions before committing themselves. I recommend that Miss S go back to the company and tell them, in writing, that they must not start processing the visa until she has been provided with full details of the position offered and the terms of employment. A person can legally start working for a company once a visa application has been submitted to the Ministry of Labour. It is not necessary to wait for a visa to be approved and issued, but an application must be made as soon as someone actually starts working. Failure to comply with this legal requirement can result in a fine for both parties.

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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