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Home schooling, bank transfers and pay for overtime

My husband has been seconded to Dubai for a nine-month project starting in a few months time. I plan to join him with my little boy, but I was hoping you could tell me whether I have to put my son in school during his time in the UAE.

My husband has been seconded to Dubai for a nine-month project starting in a few months time. I plan to join him with my little boy, but I was hoping you could tell me whether I have to put my son in school during his time in the UAE. He is seven, and as he would be in a school for only a few months, taking into account the summer holidays, it seems pointless to enrol him. Is it legal for me to teach him at home? I have read that school fees are very high in the UAE, so that is also a factor. KP Perth, Australia

It is permissible to home school in the UAE and there is no requirement to notify the authorities or register with the Ministry of Education. You should ensure that there will not be any problems enrolling him in school once you return home, as some countries, including the UAE, do not offer transfer certificates for home-schooled pupils, and you may need such a certificate to put your son in school back in Australia. A group of parents who teach their children at home in the UAE have set up a website, which you might find useful: www.uaehomeschool.wordpress.com

We would like some information regarding the arrangements for paying overtime worked in excess of standard hours or extra days. Can we claim our overtime pay even if it is not indicated or not declared in our contract? For almost eight months my colleagues and I have been working 12 hours a day, and in some of those months I have had no days off, but the company does not pay any overtime. The general manager of the company said he is not willing to pay any overtime. Do we have any rights? EE Abu Dhabi

EE and his colleagues say they were forced to work in excess of the legally-stipulated 48 hours a week. In addition, they claim they were often are made to work seven days a week. This occurred from May to August of last year. They were told by their company that the extra hours were necessary due to a shortage of staff, but overtime payments were promised. In September 2009 staff members asked for shorter hours and days, but were told they were still expected to work 12-hour shifts. By January of this year the situation had not changed, and when the workers again requested that they be paid for the additional hours worked they were informed that the company would not be paying them and that if they were unhappy they could leave. The employees in question do not hold executive, administrative or senior positions, nor are they employed in trades, hotels, cafeterias or as guards, so they fall under the law stating that they must be paid overtime for any time on the job above eight hours a day. In addition, the regulations state that 10 hours is the maximum number of hours they can work per day. I suggest that EE and his colleagues ask their employer to consult the Ministry of Labour website, as it clearly states the rules pertaining to working hours. Since these are federal laws, it does not matter if anything is written in their employment contracts. The company's conduct seems to be against the law, and if no overtime is paid and additional hours are still demanded, the employees have the right to take their case to the Ministry to lodge a complaint. They can begin the process by phoning the Ministry at 800 665. This number is staffed from 7.00am to 11.00pm Saturday to Thursday.

When I left the UK I registered as a non-resident with Revenue & Customs for tax purposes. I have been told that all the money I earn while I am here in the UAE is tax-free, as long as I do not spend more than 90 days a year in the UK and stay out for at least one full tax year. My question: is it OK for me to transfer money back to my UK bank account on a regular basis to pay my UK mortgage? Is there any danger that this money would be liable to tax, and if so, is there another way you recommend that I pay into my mortgage account? TD Dubai

As you are non-resident in the UK during the current tax year, you will not be taxed on any monies you remit to the UK, provided they were earned overseas. Note that you must also not spend more than 90 days in the UK during the official tax year, which runs from 6th April to 5th April. You will have a potential tax liability only if you return to the UK partway through a tax year having spent less than five full years overseas, as you could be subject to UK income tax in that final year, depending on when you return. Provided you are sending only income, and not capital, back to the UK, you are not liable to income tax on your overseas earnings. If, however, your UK property is let, you could be liable to tax on that income, less property-related outgoings such as mortgage payments. In addition, such income must also be reported to HMRC.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write herkeren@holbornassets.com Letters can also be sent to onyourside@thenational.ae

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