UAE: Domestic Worker Consent is a condition for Salary Deduction Penalty

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has affirmed the employer's right to impose penalties on an assistant worker by deducting or withholding salary if the worker commits a serious error or violates instructions, resulting in harm to the employer's property or assets under the worker's custody.

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According to a clarification published in the "Labour Market" magazine, the employer cannot deduct from the assistant worker's salary without the worker's approval. The worker's consent is essential to applying the deduction penalty, capped at a quarter of the wage. In cases where the assistant worker disagrees with the penalty, the Ministry's approval is required to determine compensation for damages. If an agreement cannot be reached, the matter becomes a labour dispute referred to the judiciary. However, any deducted amount from the assistant worker's wages should not exceed a quarter, and it is necessary to settle debts based on a court ruling.

Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 outlines specific conditions allowing employers to deduct from workers' wages. The deduction or withholding cannot exceed 50% of the wage in any case. Permissible deductions include recovering loans granted to the worker, reclaiming excess amounts paid, and deducting amounts for contributions to rewards, retirement pensions, and insurance as per country legislation.

Additionally, deductions are allowed for the worker's contributions to a facility's savings fund or approved loans. Payments for social projects, benefits, or services approved by the Ministry also permit deductions, provided the worker receives written notice to participate in the project. The list of deduction cases covers payment of debts due to a court ruling, not exceeding a quarter of the wage. However, alimony debts may exceed this limit with court approval, and the distribution of collected amounts follows privilege levels in cases of multiple debts.

Furthermore, deductions can be made to cover costs for repairing damages caused by the worker's error or violation of employer instructions, with a limit of five days' wages per month. Any deduction beyond this limit requires approval from the competent court.

The Ministry emphasised that in cases of disagreement over signing the deduction agreement, the matter will be escalated to the judiciary as a labour dispute.

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