We have just moved to the UAE with our teenage children, but have heard that there may be a problem with them staying here once they reach the age of 18 in a few years’ time. My husband is on a five-year contract, so we plan to stay for quite a while. Although our eldest is now just 16, I would like to know what the situation is so we can plan for when she reaches age 18. Surely there are options for older teenage children? IF Abu Dhabi
Under current legislation, unmarried daughters may be sponsored by their father at any age, but this is not the case for sons. Males can no longer be sponsored by their father once they reach the age of 18. At this point, they must obtain their own residency visa to remain a resident in the UAE. Sons can do this either by finding a job and being sponsored by their employer, or by remaining in education and obtaining a student visa through their college or university.
I have been receiving text messages that claim to be from Dubai Mall, but I think they are more likely spam. The wording is always the same: "You are lucky! You are among the potential candidates that could win Dh1,000 cash today with Dubai Mall! For more information, please call our sales staff." These messages appear very suspicious. Can you check them out? MC Sharjah
I contacted Dubai Mall and a spokesperson responded: "The mall management has alerted the concerned authorities about the SMS fraud campaign, and recipients of any such messages are requested to contact the Dubai Police authorities located within the mall or the police headquarters in Deira. The management reiterates that Dubai Mall has neither authorised any external agency nor undertakes SMS campaigns promising instant gift vouchers or cash prizes. The mall's authorised marketing campaigns clearly specify the nature of the promotion and other relevant details. We uphold the interests of our visitors and are committed to their welfare. We also request the co-operation of the public in reporting any suspicious messages to the police." If anyone has any doubt about any SMS message, they should verify them before passing on any personal information.
I have been offered a job in Dubai, but I am unsure about some of the terms in the contract sent to me and would appreciate your advice as to whether these are legal. There is a probationary period of three months and it seems that the employer can sack me at any time during this period. Does it also mean that I can leave just as easily? We agreed upon a salary of Dh22,000 per month, but the contract states that only Dh10,000 of this is to be classed as basic salary, with the rest to be housing allowance and bonus. These parameters were not discussed at any meeting and it seems very strange. Are these terms allowed? IB Dubai
Under UAE Labour Law, a probationary period must be no more than six months. During this time, both the employer and employee may terminate the employment contract with immediate effect without having to provide any reason. You should be aware that if you resign during the probationary period without good reason, you will be liable to pay your own repatriation costs. It's not uncommon for a lower basic salary to be specified in an employment contract because end-of-service gratuity is based on basic salary, not on added allowances. It's a method that companies use to reduce their liabilities and is quite common, although the company's practice of splitting payment in this way should have been raised during one of your discussions.
Can you help me with a query about gratuity payments? I have been with my current employer for a few months under three years and am thinking about quitting to find work elsewhere in the city. According to the law, what am I entitled to be paid if I leave? CD Dubai
Under UAE Labour Law, you will be entitled to a reduced amount of end-of-service gratuity as you are planning on resigning. The standard rules are that once you have completed more than 12 months' service, but less than five years, you are entitled to an end-of-service payment equivalent to 21 days' pay for each year, or pro-rata, but assuming you are on an unlimited contract this is payable at just one third of the standard rate. If you resign after three years of continuous service, but less than five, you are entitled to payment at two thirds of the standard rate. End-of-service gratuity calculation is based on your final basic salary, excluding allowances, but including performance-related bonuses and commissions.
I was made redundant a few months ago, but I have not been able to find another suitable job in the UAE. It looks as if I will have to return to the UK. Job prospects in my field of expertise, which is construction, look pretty poor in the UK as well. Can you tell me if I am able to claim unemployment benefits upon my return? CB Dubai
According to the UK's Department for Employment, you are only entitled to make a claim for unemployment benefits if you have been employed in the UK and been paying both income tax and national insurance. You would need to have worked for your UK employer for a period of at least two years and your unemployment benefits are based on your weekly pay, age and continuous employment. In your circumstances, I regret to inform you that you are not entitled to make a claim for unemployment benefits should you return to the UK.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org with queries for this column or for advice on any other financial planning matter.
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