x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Labour ban applies to all companies beyond free zones

On your side: Anyone who decides to leave employment before the end of the first year of service will be subject to an automatic labour ban of six months.

I have been working for a company registered as an LLC in the UAE from January 13 and I will complete my six-month probationary period in July. I am not happy with the present company and I have received an offer from another LLC local company on a higher salary around Dh7,000 that I would like to take. Please advise me on how to change from my present company without any labour ban or any sort of legal problem. My present company promised me a salary of around Dh5,000, including an incentive that I am never paid due to some company policy that I do not understand. I feel I am trapped with only a low salary to support my family, so how can I get out? SR Dubai

Anyone who decides to leave employment before the end of the first year of service will be subject to an automatic labour ban of six months. In addition, the employer can request a one-year employment ban from the Ministry of Labour. Only those employed in a free zone may move to another employer in the same free zone without any ban as the sponsor is the free zone, not the individual company. If a ban is imposed on someone who has worked for less than one year, this generally cannot be lifted. In order to have the option to change jobs SR must complete one full year of service, including the probationary period, and provided he has at least a high school diploma, the ban can probably be lifted if the new salary is sufficient. The guideline is that the minimum salary in a new job is Dh5,000 for those without a high school diploma, Dh7,000 for diploma holders, and Dh12,000 for bachelor degree holders. If SR considers that his employer has not paid him in full he should approach the Ministry of Labour and have the situation investigated.

I live in the UAE and have two sisters, one in England and one in Scotland, where my mother lives. My mother is in her 80s and she is concerned that if anything happens to her we would not be able to sell the home quickly to pay nursing home fees therefore she would like to "gift" her home to my sisters and me. I would just like to confirm I have my facts straight with regards to tax and other issues as I keep getting different information. I am aware that there could be capital-gains tax (CGT) on any difference in value at transfer and on a subsequent sale, if there is an increase in value. We are also concerned this might affect mum and any state benefits she receives. Would any of these change because she is no longer the homeowner? If anything were to happen and she had to go into a home, would the fact the house has been transferred to us mean that she would no longer have to pay her own fees for residential care? GD, Abu Dhabi

Your mother giving you her property will not change her entitlement to any benefits and she would pay the same amount of council tax. As far as other taxes go, there would be a liability to CGT on selling the gifted property, at least for your sisters, and whether you have a liability depends on whether you are UK resident at the time of the sale and if not, how long you have been non-resident. There would be no liability to Inheritance Tax (IHT) on your mother's death, but this is the case only because her estate is likely to be worth less than the current IHT threshold of £325,000 (in the 2012-13 tax year), and not because she gave the property away. The fact your mother would still be living in the property after giving it away means its value is still included in her estate when working out whether IHT is due. There is an issue here other than tax, as if your mother does eventually go into a care home, her local authority could take the view that she has deliberately deprived herself of an asset to avoid paying care home fees as she has few assets.

I have just checked the police website to see if I had a speeding fine, when I saw a fine listed for an offence on a date when I was not even in the country. Obviously this must be a mistake, but what can I do about it? When I called the police they were not helpful, but it is not fair to ask me to pay Dh600 for something I didn't do. JP, Dubai

In order to appeal against a traffic fine you have to visit the customer service department of Dubai Traffic Prosecution, located behind Dubai Police Headquarters in Bur Dubai. A form must be completed giving reasons why the fine is not justified, with evidence where possible. You must also provide proof of identity, so take a copy of your passport and identity card. I understand that the appeal process can take up to three weeks. If the police decide that the fine was issued in error then it is cancelled immediately.


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