Companies have been warned the government will not stand for breaches of employment law, as Abu Dhabi rolled out a new dispute resolution court to handle mounting labour cases.
Judicial officials said withholding passports and failing to pay wages on time continue to be among the most common labour cases, though workers have become more confident about fighting for their rights.
Officials said most businesses adhere to the law but ‘whenever you have a system there will be people who try to abuse it’.
The Summary Cases Court located above Twa-Fouq centre in the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation will compliment the One Day Labour Court, which handled 770 cases from its launch in October 2017 until the end of last year, and aims to settle clear-cut cases within hours.
“The shorter the process is in the system, the quicker the law will get enforced,” said Benjimin Burgher, a legal adviser at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (Adjd).
Traditionally, employers would be slow paying what they owe to employees, knowing that a judgment could take many months, said Mr Burgher.
“The employer would think ‘I can continue to work and wait for a year before the judgment is issued and I will hold on to the money for as long as I can’.”
However, when a case gets resolved instantly, and the employer is aware they could go to prison if they does not pay on time, he will resolve the issue immediately.
“Whenever you have a system there will be clever people who try to abuse it, what you can do is make it as difficult as possible for them to do so.”
The Summary Cases Court mainly handles straightforward cases such as an employer withholding an employee’s passport, or a company failing to issue or renew health insurance cards for employees.
The employee would first go to the Twa-Fouq centre, which is managed by the Ministry of Human Resources and Labour, to present their complaint.
The centre tries to reach an agreement between the employee and employer without the need for court action.