x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Companies are still breaking the law by withholding pay

On Your Side: The Ministry of Labour has a helpline that workers can call if they are not receiving their salaries.

I work for a company in Sharjah and have not been paid my salary for the past three months. Is it true that if you have not been paid for a certain amount of time that you can transfer your visa (if you can find another job) without obtaining a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from your current employer? Also, is there any sort of system here to protect the rights of employees in cases such as this? VK, Sharjah

Your employer is breaking the law by not paying you. Despite what some companies seem to think, this is not optional, regardless of the situation. The Wages Protection System that was implemented by the Ministry of Labour last year should reduce the problem, but it seems to have made little difference so far. The Ministry of Labour is sympathetic and helpful in this kind of situation and you have the right to take your case to it. The ministry's helpline number is 800 655 and this should be your first point of contact. The staff at the ministry will guide you through the procedure. Employees are not liable for court fees. Regarding the labour ban, it was announced more than a year ago that in situations where an employee has not been paid for two months or more, they have the right to change employment without having to provide an NOC. This applies even if the employer then pays the outstanding wages. Essentially, workers have the right to leave their employer without filing the required notice period if the company does not fulfil any of its commitments as stipulated in the employment contract.

 

My husband died last August and there is an account with Citibank in our joint names with a significant balance. I went to Citibank in Abu Dhabi in October and explained what had happened and was told to come back in two weeks to collect a "manager's cheque". In the joint account agreement form, which we signed on December 29, 1999, item six states: "In the event of the death of either of us, the surviving co-owner(s) shall be entitled to dispose of any credit balance, security or other property available to the account, freely and without limitation." When I returned to Citibank, it said it could not give me the cash, telling me that "the customer's wife will need to provide us with an appropriate court order recognising the heirs to the account for fund allocated to the deceased and authorising the bank to make a release thereof" and "assuming that there is no outstanding amount that may be required to be set off against amounts owed to us by the deceased for credit-card usage, you may thereafter [after receipt of court directive] release the funds in accordance with the instruction stated in the court order". There is a small credit balance on the Visa card. When I went to the court, I was passed from one person to another - the third one asked me if I wanted to make a case. By that time, I was confused and couldn't answer the question. Can you explain to me what I should do? I have a copy of my husband's will, which leaves everything to me and then to our three children. IM, Abu Dhabi

Dealing with the frozen assets of a husband after death is a complicated matter, especially in the UAE. There are a number of steps that IM has to go through. The executors of the will are the people who should deal with the process, although IM may be a beneficiary as well as an executor and could deal with the matter herself. IM will need the original will and, because she is a British national, she must apply for a grant of probate in the UK. The procedure for this can be found in detail at www.direct.gov.uk, as well as the relevant forms to download. The grant of probate then needs to be notarised in the UK. After this, the original grant of probate and will should be authenticated by both the UAE Embassy in the UK and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abu Dhabi. The final step is then to have the grant of probate and will formally translated into Arabic for presentation to the Sharia Court so it can authorise the release of frozen assets held in the UAE. This will take a few weeks, but the process must be followed for IM to access the monies in the joint account.

 

Can you tell me if it is possible for someone to hire a car in Dubai if they are on a tourist visa? The person has a valid UK driving licence. DG,Muscat

Tourists may hire a vehicle while on holiday in the UAE, but to do so they must have an International Driving Permit (IDP), as well as their licence. I have heard that not all rental companies have been asking to see an IDP, but this does not mean that there are exceptions. Whether a person is asked to provide this or not, it is a legal requirement and the vehicle insurance could be invalidated if the driver does not have one.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write to her at keren@holbornassets.com with your questions for On Your Side