x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Can an employer refuse request for Christmas Day off

Kerren Bobker assists readers with the latest problems involving employee rights, redundancy, bank accounts and eviction notices.

I am a practising Christian so it is important to me to celebrate Mass on Christmas Day. It is on a Wednesday this year and my company is part of a big regional organisation and we are working normally all week. I have asked my boss for a day of holiday so that I can go to church but he has refused, saying there is too much work on. It is a religious holiday to me so can I insist on having the day off work? MJ, Dubai

Christmas Day is not a registered public holiday in the UAE so there is no legal right for anyone to have the day off work. If your employer approves a day of leave, then he can insist that it comes out of your annual holiday entitlement.

I have recently been given one month’s notice of redundancy as the owners of the company are winding it up and everyone is being made redundant. I receive a basic salary, plus commission on top of that each month and have worked for them since September 2012. I understand that according to Labour Law I am due a gratuity of one month’s salary per year so I calculate this to be 1.25 times my salary. Would commission count towards this or only the basic? Furthermore, as I had until October 2012 for my visa to expire, do they owe me anything else? Is any compensation due? I have taken 15 days’ holiday this year out of my entitlement of 25 days. I know the owners do not have any major financial problems, so want to ensure that I receive all I am entitled to. HM, Abu Dhabi

It is assumed that HM is on an unlimited employment contract. According the UAE Labour Law, article 132, a person is entitled to an end of service gratuity payment calculated as “21 days’ pay for each year of the first five years of service.” Article 133 goes on to say “the employee shall be entitled to end of service remuneration in respect of fractions of the year payable pro rata to the time actually worked provided that he has completed one year of continuous service.”

If employment, including the notice period ends on December 31, the entitlement would be for 28 days of salary.

The figure is calculated on the current basic salary, not allowances, but should include any commission or bonuses that have formed a regular part of pay. This means payable monthly or quarterly, rather than any annual bonuses.

Finally Article 79 states that “the employee is entitled to receive cash in lieu of annual leave days not availed by him, if he was dismissed or if he left service”. No further payments will be due and the employer should arrange for the employment visa to be cancelled once all payments have been made in full.

I have a salary account with Emirates NBD and as I am planning to leave the UAE I want to know if I can cancel the visa without closing the account. Or is it necessary for me to close the bank account and then cancel the visa? I am cancelling my visa next week and plan to close the account in the first week of January after receiving my salary. SM, Dubai

It is not necessary to cancel a UAE bank account if someone no longer has a UAE residency visa. The visa should also be cancelled by the employer, not the employee, after final salary payments have been settled in full. Bear in mind that the last payment from the employer will be marked as “final salary” so the bank will automatically freeze the bank account. Provided there are no outstanding loans or credit card debts the account can be unfrozen soon afterwards.

I purchased an apartment on July 2 and asked the tenant to vacate the flat by February 15, 2014. I want to use it for myself, although the tenancy with the previous owner expired last month, so I was giving him time to move. I had given him notification by email to the address shown on the contract papers. The tenant agreed to vacate the apartment by email reply, mentioning some time early in 2014, but now he is asking for 12 months’ notice. What should I do in this case as he is not keeping his word and I want to move into the apartment I have bought and paid for? RK, Dubai

If someone buys a property where there is currently a tenant, the existing tenancy remains valid and all the terms will continue to apply. If the new landlord wishes the tenant to vacate the property for a valid reason, such as wanting to move in himself, the landlord must provide the tenant with formal written notice in the prescribed format.

This must be in writing and delivered by courier or public notary and must give the tenant 12 months’ notice to vacate from the next tenancy renewal date. Notice given by email is not considered legally valid in Dubai.

In this case proper notice should be given but the tenant does not have to move out until 12 months from the next renewal date.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com.