Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

I haven't been paid for three months - what do I do now?

Have a problem? Been treated unfairly? Our consumer advocate is on the case for you.

I've been working for my present company for two years, but for the last three months no members of staff have been paid. The company claims financial difficulties and that they will be able to pay salaries again in a couple of months. People who complain are accused of being disloyal and have been threatened with sacking. But the family who owns the company appears to be financially very comfortable. No one can go on much longer like this, as we all have our own expenses each month, but what options do we have?

AG Abu Dhabi Because AG and his fellow employees have full legal contracts, according to the UAE Labour Law the company must pay them. Not doing so is a breach of contract. It is unreasonable to expect employees to work without pay. I have also been told that this company has not organised residency visas for several employees, and so they are working illegally - which could result in a very large fine for the company, and the individual workers also could be fined, imprisoned or deported.

I hope AG makes immediate contact with the Ministry of Labour on their helpline number, 800 655. The Ministry takes situations like this seriously and will act. What are my rights if banks call me regarding someone else's loans? I was called twice one morning before 9am by a rude and aggressive man who claimed to be from Citibank's legal department, asking strange and inappropriate questions about a former friend for whom I'd naively agreed to serve as a character reference on a credit card application two years ago. Apparently, this individual has done a runner from the UAE, and the bank is pursuing the debt on his credit card. I am concerned because of the rude and discriminatory questions this man asked me. He simply would not take my answers at face value and kept pressing me, strongly implying that I had a duty to respond to him because I'd been listed as a character reference. What do UAE banking laws say in this type of situation? Can character references be obligated to pay or even co-operate with banks?

AA Dubai This case has taken nearly two months of enquiries, but has finally been resolved. AA provided a simple character reference for someone who was a friend at the time. This person (we'll call him HAK) had a loan and credit card, and Citibank wrote off the debts in 2006 and 2007. Citibank made no calls to collect on the debt, as the likelihood of recovery was considered to be low. Citibank commented as follows:

"Both cases were given for follow-up to external collections agencies, so it must have been an agency collector who called the customer. This is also explaining why the call was made when in-house Citibank collections were off. We are currently raising this issue with the agency involved. Of course, while a customer owes us money and there is a police case on him, this does not justify calling his reference with demand to pay.

While as per our process, references can be contacted - generally speaking, in instances when customer is not contactable - he or she can be requested only to provide recent contact data for the actual customer. As the reference has no contractual obligations towards us, demanding repayment is not allowed and the tone and content of the conversation should be totally different than in the case of a debtor."

At my request, Citibank followed up the issue with the debt-collecting agency, which confirmed that AA was called on September 22, a public holiday. The company has denied acting improperly by being impolite or demanding repayment, but Citibank has noted AA's complaint. The bank commented further: "We would like to assure her that Citi does not hold her responsible for any outstanding issues left behind by our client."

In other words, by providing a personal or character reference for someone, you do not take on any financial responsibility for their debts. Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write to her at keren@holbornassets.com Letters can also be sent to onyourside@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

 The cooling towers of the Temelin nuclear power plant near the Tyn nad Vltavou in Czech Republic. The country wants to continue expanding nuclear energy capacity despite cancelling a tender to build two new units. David W Cerny / Reuters

In pictures: Best business images for the week to April 17, 2014

Here are some of the best business images for the week to April 17, 2014.

 Three generations of the Hakimi family tend to their stall Crawford Market in Mumbai. Subhash Sharma for The National

In pictures: Shopper’s delight at Crawford Market in Mumbai

Crawford Market is an old British-style covered market dealing in just about every kind of fresh food and domestic animal imaginable. Later on renamed Mahatma Jotirao Phule, the market remains popular among locals and visitors by its old name, taken from Arthur Crawford who was the first municipal commissioner of the city.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National