On Your Side: Our resident consumer advocate Keren Bobker answers questions on what happens to your UAE bank account in the case of redundancy, and how women can sponsor their husbands' visas.
My company terminated my job last month and my notice period is going to end next week. I have a loan with Emirates NBD. With the loan amount, I bought property in India and it seems like it will take some time to sell it. Also, I have another job offer in the UAE, but it will take some time to get my offer letter; more than a week. Can you advise on what I should do now? VV, Dubai
When someone leaves a company, the last salary payment will be marked as final when paid to the bank, which usually leads to the account being frozen, especially if the individual has any outstanding debts, such as a loan. The account will usually be unfrozen once confirmation of a new job has been provided. I would expect the bank to be amenable if they are kept fully advised and they can see that payments will be maintained and VV will not default on the loan.
I have been in the UAE for several years working on a project where most of the actual work takes place offshore and so I work on rotation. My contract refers to monthly payments, but these are based on an agreed daily rate, together with a set monthly allowance for provision of accommodation and transport. The contract terms permit me 30 days of annual leave, which if taken, is unpaid. During my time here, I have returned to Europe on two or three occasions for periods ranging from seven to 14 days only, none of which was paid. My contract clearly specifies the position with regard to the end-of-contract UAE gratuity payments, but excludes any mention of 30 days' paid leave. Is this something to do with the fact that I am on a day-rated contract? PN, Al Ain
While the majority of people who come to the UAE are on a standard employment contract, there are many who are essentially self-employed as contractors, but sponsored by an employer to work for them only. In these cases, different terms may apply if agreed by both parties and the relevant contract is lodged with the Ministry of Labour. If different terms have been agreed, specifically accepted by the employee and are not deemed to be against the employee's interest, then these will stand. The UAE Labour Law does state that there should be a minimum of 30 days' annual leave, but this is meant to refer to standard employees. People on different terms may theoretically request a full 30 days of leave each year, but will not be paid for this if they are paid purely on days of work per their agreed contract terms.
I work in a management role for a Dubai company and have my own residency visa. My husband is about to be made redundant from his job and due to the specialist nature of his profession it could be some time until he gets a new job. Our apartment is in my name as I have been the main earner. Am I able to sponsor him? Many people have told me that only husbands are permitted to sponsor a spouse. RT, Dubai
The general rule across the UAE has always been that a wife may sponsor her husband if she is employed in specified professions, namely: a doctor, nurse, teacher or engineer. For those who have a different occupation and are in Dubai, the Dubai General Directorate for Residency and Foreigners Affairs will look into each application on a case-by-case basis. The minimum salary requirement is Dh10,000 per month, or Dh9,000 plus accommodation. My understanding is that the department is amenable to most applications, especially those with a higher income. An application must be made in each case. The main point of contact is via the Amer service on 800 5111.
I have recently started work in Dubai, having only been in the country a short time. But after working for six weeks, I still do not have a residency visa or labour card. Fortunately, I have been able to open a very basic bank account so I can be paid, but can't rent a place of my own without the proper visa. As I hold a British passport, I was able to re-enter the UAE on another visit visa after the first one expired, but friends have told me that it is not legal and I could get into trouble. MW, Dubai
The Ministry of Labour states you must have a residency visa and labour card provided by your employer to take up employment, but they do appreciate that it can take a few weeks for visas to be processed. Provided the application has been made immediately, and there is evidence to this effect, there is a grace period of 60 days maximum, during which an individual may work without penalty. If this is not done, the employee could be fined or in some cases deported, possibly even receiving a lifetime ban. The employer can be fined up to Dh50,000.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Contact her at email@example.com