x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Can an employer force an employee to take a holiday?

I am European and I have been working in Knowledge Village for one and a half years. I am now nearly six months pregnant. I would like to know if he has the right to fire me for any reason and if he has the right to push me to take holidays now.

I am European and I have been working in Knowledge Village for one and a half years. I am now nearly six months pregnant. I received a letter from my employer saying that due to economic reasons my contract will end within two months. In addition, he is asking me to take four weeks of holiday. I do not want to take any holidays now. I would like to know if he has the right to fire me for any reason and if he has the right to push me to take holidays now.

CB Dubai Throughout the UAE, employers have the right to terminate employment, provided they comply with the notice period stated in the contract of employment. A specific reason does not need to be provided, although it is deplorable that many employers seem to end the contracts of female employees when they become pregnant. CB's contract states that the notice period on either side is two months, and it seems that she would be paid for the time off. It is common practice for employees to work their notice as "gardening leave", meaning that they are effectively paid to stay at home and the end-of-service gratuity is paid at the end of the notice period. In this case CB's employer has not broken any laws.

My husband has life insurance arranged by the company he works for. How can I make sure I will get the money if anything happens to him? JP Abu Dhabi JP's husband is a member of a group life assurance scheme set up by his employer. It pays out a multiple of salary in the event of his death while employed by this company. As the company set up the policy, they are the owner and can pay the death benefit to whomever they see fit. In most cases, the death benefit is payable to the employee's dependents, but I would recommend that anyone involved in such a scheme to nominate one or more specific beneficiaries. To do this, your husband should ask his employer about completing some kind of nomination of beneficiary form so that the situation is clear.

My former employer is calculating my end-of-service gratuity. My sales commission was paid on a monthly basis and the amount used to vary from Dh2,000 to Dh13,500 per month. My annual personal commission was paid once a year. In calculating the gratuity, they are using the basic and my last monthly commission, which happens to be the lowest. I have been insisting that they use an average of the total bonus paid during the year as the basis for calculating gratuity. Since this is not mentioned anywhere, I am unable to get them to agree to the average monthly bonus. Please advise.

SM Dubai According to the advisers at the Ministry of Labour, if bonuses or commission are mentioned in the labour contract then they should be taken into consideration when calculating a gratuity. Provided you have confirmation in writing from your employer setting out the terms of the commission payments - for example, a fixed percentage above a certain amount of business obtained - and you have received regular payments, then these payments must considered when calculating your gratuity. In SM's case, not only does the contract set out the terms of the payments, but an annual minimum is specified of Dh29,000. This amount must be used when calculating the end-of-service gratuity, as an absolute minimum. If, however, the average payment over the six-year period of your employment has been significantly higher, a larger sum should be used, based largely on the final year of service. It may be that the employer is not aware of the full labour law, so I suggest that SM start by explaining this to them, perhaps showing them this column. If they still do not agree to pay, SM should contact the Ministry of Labour (800 665). The ministry can assist with conciliation, but if that does not succeed then the matter can be taken to court, which should be the final resort. Until the matter is resolved to your satisfaction, you should not sign any documents pertaining to the cancellation of your work permit.

I have recently remarried, and although I wrote a will to match that of my ex-wife, I haven't made any changes since. My new wife and I do not plan to have any children so we don't see the need for a will, but her mother says that we should do this. Who is right? Both my wife and I are British and have few assets in the UAE. TB Abu Dhabi In the UK, all wills are invalidated in the event of divorce, so the will that you wrote a number of years ago is no longer legally recognised. Your ex-wife would also have no claim on your assets. I do not know if you have any children from your previous marriage, but any provision that you had made for any children in an earlier will is also invalid. If you die without having written a will, then your assets are distributed according to the rules of intestacy under British law. (Note that different rules apply regarding assets held in the UAE.) Your current wife is entitled to receive all your personal property and belongings and the first £250,000 of your estate, plus a life interest in half of your remaining estate. If you jointly own property in the UK, your wife would only receive the property in full if you both owned it as joint tenants and not tenants in common, as these are distinct legal terms. If you have children from a previous marriage, they are entitled to one half of the value of your estate over £250,000. Other relatives may also have a claim. You will see that the situation can become very complicated and I have not even mentioned inheritance tax. To avoid problems, you and your new wife should both write wills. If you need help, I can recommend a specialist lawyer.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write her at keren@holbornassets.com Letters can also be sent to onyourside@thenational.ae