Although I have asked for it several times, my new employer has not provided me with a copy of my labour contract. Can I make him give me a copy? What should I do? BC Dubai
It seems irregular that an employer would not provide a copy of a labour or employment contract, and you have every right to request and retain a copy of your terms of employment. If your employer refuses to provide a copy you can obtain one from the Ministry of Labour. You need to take a photocopy of your labour card and submit it at the customer service counter. The staff will then be able to provide you with a copy of the work contract that must, by law, be lodged with them.
I bought an Armani suit in the UK last summer and it cost me £800 (Dh4,500). It has been worn half a dozen times, and on one occasion, the trousers got wet and had a "tide mark". The jacket was unmarked but I decided to get both the jacket and trousers cleaned at the same time. The suit was sent to a dry cleaner called Kool Dry Cleaners, which my wife had used once before. When the suit came back, the trousers still had the blemish and the jacket was ruined. It was discoloured and had what looked like bleach stains. I reported the matter to the consumer services division at the Department of Economic Development (DED) back in October and was assigned a number. The person I spoke to at the DED advised me to return the jacket to Kool Dry Cleaners to see if they could repair the damage. I assured him they wouldn't be able to, but returned the suit anyway. I subsequently received a call from a representative of Kool Dry Cleaners who admitted that the suit was ruined and accepted full responsibility. He then offered me Dh367 compensation, since he assumed (I don't know why) that the suit cost Dh734. I advised him of the cost of the Armani suit and that Dh367 was not acceptable. He hung up on me. I then received a call from the DED asking why I had not agreed to the compensation. It was clear that the cleaners wished the case to be closed quickly. I advised him that Dh367 was in no way reasonable compensation for a new Armani suit and that I would be thousands of dirhams out of pocket simply for using this company's services. He asked me if I had the receipt for the suit. I said I did not keep receipts from more than 12 months ago, but that if he was concerned about the price we could take the ruined suit to an Armani store in Dubai and ask them the cost of a replacement. At the moment, my suit is still with Kool Dry Cleaners. They refuse to return it and I have turned down the offer of Dh367, which DED seemed to think is reasonable. Is there anything else I can do? PD Dubai
This happened some months ago and PD has been trying to resolve this issue for some time. He took the right course of action in contacting DED, even if its representative did not appreciate the actual loss incurred. I suggested that he contact Armani in the UAE to ask them to provide written evidence regarding the cost of replacing the suit, which could be presented to both the dry cleaners and the DED. Over the following two months, PD repeatedly contacted the DED, which eventually stated that Kool Dry Cleaners would pay Dh3,500 in compensation. However, in reality, the cleaners later offered Dh2,600 because they claimed the suit was not completely new. This however, is a high-quality item that was only 12 months old and had been worn less than a dozen times. PD is aware that mistakes are made but is rightly unhappy that "they tried to hide what they had done and then offered a ridiculously small amount in compensation". I have tried to contact the management at Kool Dry Cleaners for their comments, but no one was able, or willing, to comment and my calls were not returned. The matter remains unresolved.
There have been reports in the press that the retirement age in UAE has been raised to 65 from 60, with changes in the Labour Law effective this year. Can you please advise on the validity of this new law and whether all employers, both in the public and private sectors, are obliged to follow the directive? JS Abu Dhabi
A revision to the UAE Labour Law took place on January 1. Previously, the maximum age that expatriates could receive full residency visas was 60, but this has now increased to 65. Although people 60 or above were previously able to be sponsored by an employer, this was only on an annual basis. But with the reduction of standard residency visas to a two-year period, this has also been extended to everyone 65 or under on the same fee structure. After the age of 65, it is still possible for expats to remain employed, but they may only be granted a one-year visa. The ruling applies to both government and private-sector companies. If a company wishes to make an employee redundant after age 60, the standard labour law rules apply. The legal issue is one of availability of visas, but many employers have welcomed the change as it will make the legalities easier if they wish to retain employees with extensive experience and knowledge.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write to her at email@example.com with queries for this column or for advice on any other financial planning matter.
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