I went for a job interview in June and the employer told me my application was successful. I was to start work on September 1 and spent 15 days in August undergoing training. I was given a copy of the contract, which I signed, though it has not been stamped by the employer. On my due start date, I was informed that the office was still under construction and that the firm’s hiring is on hold. I declined other job offers that I received during this time. If the company backs out, can I take legal action against them?

You say that you have proof of the job offer contract. This contract, whether stamped or not by the employer, is, based on what you have told me, a valid contract, and the terms of that contract will be relevant to the issues you raise.

Articles (35) and (36) of the UAE Labour Law No 8 of 1980 provide that the employment contract shall be made in duplicate, with one copy to be given to the employee and the other retained by the employer. In the absence of a written contract all of its conditions may be proved by all legal means of evidence. The employment contract shall, in particular, specify the date on which work begins, the date of its conclusion, the nature and place of work, the duration of the contract in the case of a contract with a limited period and the amount of remuneration.

On the assumption that your contract contains a start date of September 1, your employment rights accrue from that date. Depending on the terms and type of your contract, if the company ‘backs out’ it will be liable to you according to the terms of the contract and/or under the Labour Law itself as well as the Civil Code, and the firm would be liable to compensate you if it delays or cancels your start date or terminates the contract.