Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 February 2020

'Can my children sponsor me if I secure a job in the UAE?'

The US resident is 66 and wants to relocate to the Emirates and possibly take up employment

The reader may secure a job in Dubai as a school guidance counsellor, which would start in August. Getty Images
The reader may secure a job in Dubai as a school guidance counsellor, which would start in August. Getty Images

I am 66 and live in the United States. My children live in Dubai and want to sponsor my UAE residency. I have a possible job for August as a school guidance counsellor in Dubai. I am a mental health professional with a masters in clinical psychology and degrees attested by ADEC (Abu Dhabi Education Council). If my children are able to acquire a one-year residency for me, will I be allowed to work at a school if they are willing to apply for a labour card? KW, US

It is possible to sponsor a parent but applications are considered on a case-by-case basis by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in the relevant emirate. Visas are for a period of one year at a time and the applicant/sponsor must have a monthly salary of at least Dh20,000, or a salary of Dh19,000 plus accommodation with at least two bedrooms and also pay for medical insurance. Generally, if the parent has an income of their own, or financial support in their home country, an application will be declined as the sponsor is expected to be their only means of support.

This means that someone sponsored by a son or daughter is not permitted to take up employment when in the UAE as having an income of their own negates the reason for the visa in the first place.

In this situation, the school should sponsor KW and provide her with a residency visa. There is a nominal upper age limit of 65 years but employers can make applications for staff who fall outside this guideline if there is good reason to do so. However, the visa will only be issued for 12 months at a time and the cost of medical insurance and visas is often a reason why employers will not take on employees over the age of 60.

Our school management informed us in writing that when teachers are absent due to sickness, they must provide the teaching materials and assignments that students need to work on while they are absent. Otherwise, sick leave will not be approved. Is this legal? SK, Abu Dhabi

I understand that SK works in a private school and so UAE Labour Law applies. The law is clear about payment when an employee is away from work due to ill-health. Article 83 states: "Should the worker spend more than three months after the end of the probation period in the continuous service of the employer and contract an illness, he shall be entitled to a sick leave not exceeding 90 consecutive or non-consecutive days for every year of service, calculated as follows: a — The first 15 days with full pay. b — The following 30 days with half pay. c — The following periods without pay.” It is therefore clear that employees are paid for time off sick within these time frames, although they must notify the employer in a timely manner and provide a medical certificate in line with the employer’s policy.

While I can understand a school asking for a lesson plan if a member of staff is off for a period of time, this is simply not reasonable if someone is genuinely and seriously ill. There is no specific mention of this in law but in such cases we have to consider what is reasonable. Therefore, it is not reasonable for an employer to withhold pay from a person who is complying with the law in providing proof of illness and within the legal guidelines for payment.

If the school persists with this policy, the staff can register a case with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation or their local labour office. Note that public schools are not covered by UAE Labour Law.

I started my job on August 2 and am still in my six-month probation period. The company is going through a reorganisation process and wants me to stay on probation for longer as the future of my role is uncertain. They have asked me to sign a letter agreeing to this and say it is fine but a friend says that is not legal. Do I have to agree? Where do I stand legally? JM, Dubai

No employer is permitted to extend a probationary period past six months. Article 137 of UAE Labour Law states: “The worker may be employed for a probation period not exceeding six months where the employer may terminate the services of the worker without notification or end-of-service gratuity. The worker may not be employed by the same employer for more than one probation period. Should the worker successfully complete the probation period and pursues in his job, the said period shall be deemed as a part of the service period.” Therefore, once JM has been with the company for six months, her probation period cannot be extended and she will be considered a permanent employee under UAE law with all the attendant rights.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with more than 25 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

Updated: January 25, 2020 03:44 PM

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