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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Can Dubai employee continue to receive benefits during notice period?

The reader was on an unlimited contract and resigned a few weeks before completing a year's service but that is no justification for an employer to withhold the salary payment, advises Keren Bobker

Keren Bobker offers advice to a Dubai worker who is questioning whether his company is allowed to withhold his final salary payment.  Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Keren Bobker offers advice to a Dubai worker who is questioning whether his company is allowed to withhold his final salary payment. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

I have an unlimited employment contract with my employer. I resigned a few weeks before completing one year of service, but have continued to work after that as my contractual notice period is three months. My contract states that should I leave employment before completing one year, the employer is entitled to recover any costs incurred in my recruitment. My employer is currently withholding my salary citing that I owe them money as I resigned before completing one year. I want to know whether working through my notice period is considered as continued service? For example, if I include my notice period my service takes me past the one-year requirement. So does my employer have any right to withhold my salary/benefits? SS, Dubai

There are two issues here. Firstly, the period of employment that must be considered is the full amount of time worked so that includes any period of notice that is worked. All benefits must continue during the notice period and this time is included in any payment calculations. As a period of over a year will have been worked, SS will be entitled to receive an end of service gratuity albeit this will be reduced due to the resignation.

The second issue is that of making payment to the employer in the event of leaving service. No matter what an employer puts in a contract, and this clause will not be in the legal contract lodged with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE), an employer is not permitted to demand money from an employee for this reason. This was clearly set out in Ministerial Order 52 of 1989, Article 6 which advised that all expenses incurred in taking on an employee must be paid by the employer and cannot be passed on. Both points need to be pointed out to the employer and if they do not adhere to the law a case should be registered with the MoHRE. The helpline number is 800 665.

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I work in JLT, which is part of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) free zone, which issued my visa. I am in my probation period. Can I leave during this time? I have a six-month probation period and have worked for four months. I want to change job, but if I cannot do so I will go back to India. I am on a limited contract. If I leave after my probation period do I really need to give the company two months’ notice, as the contract states? KR, Dubai

While free zones can have their own rules, they largely follow UAE Labour Law and the DMCC website states that they are governed by UAE Labour Law No (8) of 1980. As KR is on a fixed-term contract he will be asked to pay a significant penalty for breaking the contract and this equates to 45 days of basic pay per Article 116 of Labour Law. This is in addition to giving formal notice and working the notice period. Although the law is vague regarding the notice period for employees during the probation period it doesn’t say that the standard rules do not apply. So it is best to assume that they do – unless the employer confirms otherwise in writing. If a contract states that two months’ notice of resignation must be provided, then that must be adhered to. The rules regarding employment bans are stricter for those employees on limited-term contracts compared to those on unlimited contracts, but it partly depends on the action taken by the employer. The company can seek to impose a ban of up to six months. This will be a problem if KR wishes to stay in the UAE as he must leave the country within 30 days of his visa being cancelled. If he decides to leave, he must still give relevant notice and will be subject to the penalty for breaking the contract.

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I own a property in Abu Dhabi worth Dh1.9 million and it is rented out. I am earning Dh10,000 per month from the rent. I would like to know whether Abu Dhabi gives residence visa to property owners. My husband passed away two years back and the apartment is in my name. Could you please tell me whether I can apply for a residence visa? MJ, Abu Dhabi

While in theory it can be possible to obtain a visa to reside in Abu Dhabi using a property, in practice it is difficult and each case is subject to individual approval. My understanding is that the current rules state that the property must be in a freehold area, a rarity in Abu Dhabi, and usually only an option for UAE and GCC nationals. The only option is for a multi-entry residence visa that is renewable every six months. MJ will need to contact the Land Registration Department of Abu Dhabi Municipality to see if an application will be considered.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 20 years’ experience. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only