x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Accounts still valid for working women on a husband's visa

On your side: Is it worth suing the bank, no end-of-service benefits in the DIFC free zone and credit card fraud.

I have been working in the UAE for three years and am currently sponsored by my employer. I got married recently and am thinking about going on to my husband's visa. If I switch to a spouse visa, do I need to notify my bank? Am I still entitled to keep my bank account as my salary will still be paid into it? Also, if I discontinue work in the future but remain living here, can I still keep my bank account? - KW Al Ain

There is no problem with a married woman on her husband's visa having her own bank account. The banks will not have an issue with this. If someone changes their visa status, banks often want a copy of the latest one for their records. In most cases, it is not a problem for a woman who is not working to keep the same bank account. But if the bank in question is not amenable, there are several banks that offer accounts specifically for women without regular salaries.

My husband has been having some major issues with a bank. He took out a loan of almost Dh80,000 and has been paying it off every month for the past few years. He has now paid back Dh75,000, but was informed by the bank that he still owed Dh79,000. He tried to talk with them, show them they were mistaken and come to an agreement, but to no avail. Not only were they extremely rude, but they blacklisted him so he cannot take out any more loans. They threatened to open a court case and put out a warrant for his arrest, so he went on the offensive and opened a case against them. He had to pay Dh8,000 to open the case, which lasted two months, and was informed two days ago that he won and only has to pay Dh29,000 as opposed to Dh79,000. It bothers me that they not only tried to cheat him out of Dh50,000 extra, but blacklisted him and threatened him with a jail when they were clearly in the wrong. We want to sue the bank. Is it worth it? SS Abu Dhabi

In most cases, people contact me earlier so I can liaise with the bank and resolve problems before they get this far. As SS's husband has had a judgement in his favour, it is unlikely that he will get any further with the courts as they will see the case as settled. He could end up paying out more money in additional legal and court fees and not getting anything back. I don't think it is worthwhile for him to go any further with this.

I am about to join a company that is based in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), but there is no gratuity mentioned in my contract. When I addressed it, their answer was that the UAE law applying to end-of-service benefits is not applicable in the DIFC free zone. Can you advise me if that is so? AB Dubai

Although the UAE Labour Law (Federal law number 8 of 1980) is designed to cover all employees, there are a number of exceptions, including government entities. Different laws apply in some of the free zones, such as the DIFC and Dubai Healthcare City. For the DIFC, the relevant employment law is DIFC law number 4 of 2005. This has some provisions that differ from the UAE Labour Law, but the end-of-service gratuity is still payable to employees of companies registered with the DIFC. The only difference is that the gratuity is not reduced if an employee leaves of their own accord. In this case, AB has been misinformed by his employer and to deny someone the gratuity is illegal. An employee is entitled to receive this after one full year of service, no matter where they are working in the UAE.

I have recently been advised by my bank that both my debit and credit cards are being replaced, even though both of them are valid until the end of 2013. I rang the bank to find out why and was told that it was due to fraud and that a lot of cards were being replaced as many had been "compromised". They refused to give any additional information. By changing my cards, the bank has caused me quite a bit of inconvenience because I make various regular payments from my credit card and these now need to be altered. There have not been any fraudulent payments from my cards, so why do the banks make our lives so difficult? WB Dubai

Your card, or at least card number, appears to have been caught up in a larger fraud. The banks will generally not provide any details because your card is part of a police investigation. By "compromised", the bank means that your details have been recorded by someone who should not have them, or at least it suspects that the details may have been wrongly taken. This could have happened at any time. Again, no bank will disclose how or where it thinks this has occurred. Although your card has been compromised, fortunately, it has not been used fraudulently so no money has been taken from your account.

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

 

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