The message below was sent to me earlier this week, and reveals that HCT regularly and continually flout the UAE laws regarding the issuing of employment contracts. This news will, of course, be nothing novel to many current HCT staff, but will be a complete surprise to new recruits.
My thanks go out to the 'deep throat' at Central Services who has taken the brave decision to publish this information. I am releasing it below almost exactly as it was written.
HCT USE NO EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS
It tends to surprise people when I tell them that the Higher Colleges of Technology do not use employment contracts. It is perhaps the largest government educational institution in the UAE and one of the oldest. I was told by a longer term employee that they used to use employment contracts. However, I have worked for HCT for more than 7 years, and I have never seen an employment contract; and I have heard the same story from other employees.
For the last decade or so they have been using something titled an Employment Offer Letter, which is usually offered for signature several months before the new employment period begins. It is usually one or two pages long, has a few elements that might be in a regular contract, and then makes a reference to the HCT policies and practices on the HCT website as though they are an extension of the employment offer. I have been told by two other government bodies and a legal expert in the UAE that the HCT Employment Offer Letter is not equal to an employment contract underUAE law.
There is one problem with those HCT policies and practices, of course. A prospective new employee has no idea what the HCT policies and practices say at all, since they are not included with the employment offer and he/she will never have access to it until starting work and getting set up with portal access by the IT department. Even then, finding them in the HCT portal is from difficult to impossible. Another problem is that there are frequent changes to the policies and practices reported by HR in global emails. This is fine, but since HCT considers them to be an extension of their employment agreements, the employee agreement in effect is not static but can change in any way at any time.
While this situation is probably not legal in other countries, it seems to be an acceptable practice in the UAE for the public sector. Yet if an organization in the private sector does this and the labor department finds out about it, the result is court and penalties. The only overt governmental body that HCT HR has as oversight is the spineless and compromising Federal Authority of Human Resources, which does very little or anything, even when problems are officially brought to their attention. The reputation this body has is that of an agency that lacks the power to give it any teeth, but from experience dealing with them I think they just don't have the will to bite.
My opinion is that the labor department should have authority over all UAE employers including the government and semi-independent entities such as HCT.