I read your column in The National on issues regarding labour laws. I have also read the full law, but still have a question. We are planning to hire a replacement for me in Dubai and the candidate is a Swedish citizen. We want the end-of-service gratuity to be part of the salary so that he handles his money himself. Would that be against the law? AW Dubai
The idea behind the end-of-service gratuity is to provide an employee with a substantial sum in the form of savings upon leaving employment. It is not intended to be paid on a monthly basis and this may also be unfair to the employee as it should be based on the final basic salary. My understanding, however, is that it can be paid on a monthly basis provided both the employer and employee agree to this in writing.
I am employed by one of the higher education institutions in the UAE. My probation period was set at one year, but Article 37 of the UAE Labour Law states that a probationary period may not exceed six months. My HR department explained that our institution is a federal entity and can draft its own rules and regulations. Some regulations may follow UAE Labour Law, others may differ. I asked where it states that federal institutions of higher education are not bound to all articles of the UAE Labour Law, but the HR officer did not know where this information could be found. Is it true that federal entities can draft rules and regulations that diverge from UAE Labour Law? JM Dubai
Your HR department is correct in this case. Article 3 of the UAE Labour Law states: "The provisions of this law are not applicable to the following categories: officials, employees and workers of the Federal Government, governmental departments of the member emirates of the state, officials, employees and workers of municipalities as well as other officials, employees and workers, working in Federal and local public departments and organisations, as well as the officials, employees and workers appointed for governmental Federal and local projects." In most cases, government organisations tend to abide by the standards set out in the Labour Law, which provides for a maximum probationary period of six months, but they are not obliged to do so.
I have been a customer of Standard Chartered for quite a few years, but for some time now the bank has been consistently rejecting cheques, claiming that the signature on them does not match the one in its system. I know it is standard practice for banks to reject a certain number, but the amount of mine it keeps rejecting is ridiculous. Many of them are for an investment plan to a known insurance company, so are hardly likely to have been fraudulent because I was effectively trying to pay myself. The biggest issue was that a cheque to my landlord was rejected last year, which nearly caused a bit of a diplomatic incident as both my husband and I were out of the country. Fortunately, he is a nice man who was able to wait several weeks for the issue to be resolved, but we were lucky. Many other people would not have been so fortunate. I managed to obtain a copy of the original signature that I provided to the bank many years ago, yet still the problem persists, with two out of three cheques that I signed on the same day, to the same company, now having been rejected. Can you do anything to help? JC Dubai
We accept that security is a good thing, but in this case it seems rather excessive, so the matter was referred to Standard Chartered. After a few days it replied: "Upon receiving the complaint, our customer-care unit contacted the customer and advised her to visit one of our branches to update her signature to ensure that all her cheques will be cleared. Standard Chartered adopts the highest levels of security to protect its customers and ensure they get the best banking experience." JC confirms that that she was contacted by a member of staff to make an appointment with the manager of the Dubai Mall branch on May 26. She was advised that he would be available from 3pm to 6pm. She arrived at 3.50pm, but the manager was not in the branch. She explained to staff that a meeting had been arranged. They telephoned him and she was told he would be there in 30 minutes. Shortly after, she received a call from the branch manager and an arrangement was made to meet at a local coffee shop in 30 minutes. JC asked him to call her when he was on his way, but it wasn't until more than an hour later that he telephoned and made his way to an agreed meeting point close to the branch. A new signature was taken and, hopefully, Standard Chartered will take care before arbitrarily rejecting JC's cheques in the future.