Can I be fired for not achieving ‘impossible targets’ set by boss?

If an employer terminates employment based on grounds of non-performance, the employee can file a complaint with the Mohre

Question: I joined a company in Dubai in 2018 as a salesman. The targets defined for us then were achievable, with financial incentives specified for exceeding them. All the salesmen in the company used to make a decent amount as incentives per month. However, six months ago, our targets were redefined and made steeper, so much so that it’s virtually impossible to achieve them. None of us have been able to achieve the new targets, and I have been warned twice by my boss already. Can the company fire me, citing non-performance? I would like to stress that the targets are not achievable. Do I have any legal protection here?

Answer: Pursuant to your queries, we assume that you are employed in an entity based in the mainland of Dubai. Therefore, the provisions of Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 Regulating Employment Relations in the UAE (Employment Law) are applicable.

An employee in the UAE may be terminated by his or her employer on the grounds of non-performance. This must be substantiated by the employer in the form of evidence and issuing warning letters. Article 120 (5) of the Employment Law states: “The employer may dismiss the employee without notice if he fails to perform his basic duties under the contract of employment and persists in violating them despite formal investigation with him in this respect and warning him of dismissal if the same is repeated.”

Based on the aforementioned provision of law, your employer may terminate your employment without notice, citing the reason that your performance is below par. This may be done after warning letters are issued and a formal internal investigation is conducted.

However, your employer must substantiate with evidence that your performance is below par based on the sales generated by you. As per you, your employer has set the sales targets which are unreasonable and such targets may not be achieved.

In the event your employer terminates your employment based on grounds of non-performance, you may contact the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (Mohre) and file a complaint.

You could state that the termination was done without a valid reason. Further, you need to submit the previous and the current sales targets assigned to you. You need to justify that the current targets assigned to you and your colleagues are unreasonable and are not achievable.

Further, you should provide a comparative evidence of the past and current targets. You could say you had achieved the previous sales targets assigned by your employer.


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If the Mohre is convinced by your complaint and the supporting documents submitted to it, it may advise your employer that the termination is arbitrary. Your employer may then have to compensate you monetarily for arbitrary termination.

This is in accordance with Article 122 of the Employment Law, which states: “Termination by the employer of an employee’s service is considered arbitrary if the cause for such termination has nothing to do with the work. In particular, termination is considered arbitrary if the employee’s service has been terminated on grounds, or a reasonable complaint lodged by him to the competent authorities, or on grounds of a justifiable action brought by him against the employer.”

Based on the aforementioned provision of law, your employer may have to pay you up to three months of salary as compensation towards arbitrary termination as mentioned in Article 123 of the Employment Law.

If you and your employer do not amicably agree or settle the dispute before the Mohre, it will issue a letter to you (as you are the complainant) to approach the court which has jurisdiction to hear the employment matter.

Thereafter, you may open an employment case in the court against your employer by submitting a detailed petition, copy of the employment contract, supporting documents and the letter issued by Mohre.

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