x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Company closed for Christmas but won’t pay full notice period

Our consumer champion solves more reader's woes.

Gary Clement for The National
Gary Clement for The National

I want to find out how much salary I am due from my employer. My employment at the company was terminated on December 5, with a 30-day notice period ending on January 4. The issue I have is that I could only work until December 19 as the company was officially closed for the holidays from that date and reopened on January 5. The letter stated that: “Your salary earned up to the January 4, 2014, which includes the 30-day notice period and any vacation leave you are entitled to or owe to the company, will be paid once you’ve completed the full term of the notice period”. So, am I entitled to a full month’s salary as my employment remained effective until January 4? The company only wants to pay me for the 19 days that I was physically at work. It was out of my control that the company closed for the festive season and therefore I feel I should not be short-changed because of this. AL, Dubai

When someone is made redundant by an employer in these circumstances they are entitled to be paid a full 30 days’ pay no matter how many days are actually worked, in accordance with Article 117 of the UAE Labour Law. It was the employer’s decision to close its offices and not the individual’s so there is no reason to have the final payment reduced.

In addition, AL is entitled to full payment for any days of annual leave not taken and provided she has worked for the company for more than 12 months, she is entitled to an end of service gratuity. These amounts should form part of her final payment and should be paid before her visa is cancelled.

I have left my job but I have a personal loan with Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank. How can I get my end of service payment unblocked from my bank account? NAR, Dubai

It is standard practice for banks to freeze accounts when they receive a final salary payment. If there are no debts, accounts are usually unfrozen quickly, but this may not happen where there are liabilities to the bank such as credit-card debts and outstanding loans as the bank will be concerned that the account holder may leave the UAE and not repay the debts – a common occurrence in the past. If a person can demonstrate they have a new job then the account will be unfrozen and will operate as before. As soon as NAR can provide written proof of new employment, then ADCB should unfreeze his account.

I have been with my current employer for more than five years and have barely taken a day off due to ill health. A few months ago I had to have an operation on my arm and this meant I had to take 10 days off to recuperate as instructed by my surgeon. My boss is now saying that my time away from the office was inconvenient to him even though I gave him plenty of notice and has told me that he will not pay me for the days I took off, despite being unfit, and indeed physically unable, to work. This seems very unfair so I would like to know where I stand regarding the law. KM, Abu Dhabi

Once an employee has passed their probationary period they are entitled to be paid sick pay provided it is reported promptly. The employer may also request a formal certificate. In this case KM is entitled to be paid in full for the first 15 days of sick leave as per Article 83 of UAE Labour Law. If further time off is required, the next 30 days will be paid at half pay with no payment thereafter. If an employer refuses to pay, as in this case, then a complaint can be made at the Ministry of Labour and should be upheld.

We rented our Dubai apartment to a tenant in 2013, but we don’t like him. We know we will have to extend the lease next time because we didn’t inform him 12 months in advance about moving out. How can we sign a new lease with him so he won’t be able to extend his lease for 2015? He is paying Dh30,000-Dh50,000 less than the Rera (Real Estate Regulatory Authority) calculation right now and his lease expires in March 2014. SA, Dubai

A landlord may not evict a tenant simply because they don’t like them. Notice of eviction can be given only for specified reasons such as the property is being sold, it is to be majorly renovated or the landlord is moving in and at least a year’s notice in writing is required. Tenants cannot be evicted because they are paying a low rent, but the landlord has the right to increase it in accordance with the Rera calculations only, which will be by a specified percentage. Any rise must be notified 90 days before renewal to be valid. The tenant can then choose to accept the rise or vacate. A non-renewable clause is not enforceable under current rules to protect tenants from improper eviction.

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