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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 February 2019

'Do I have to close my offshore account if I move back to the UK?'

The RAK resident is returning home later this year and is unsure how to handle the balance

The British expatriate is concerned about how UK tax will be applied to the balance if it is moved onshore. Photo: Reuters
The British expatriate is concerned about how UK tax will be applied to the balance if it is moved onshore. Photo: Reuters

I have an offshore bank account in the Isle of Man and will be returning to the UK later this year. Will I have to close this account when I move home? Can I move the money to the UK at a later date and will I be taxed on it when I am back? FH, Ras al Khaimah

There is no legal issue in maintaining an offshore bank account when you are UK resident for tax purposes provided the appropriate declarations are made. You will need to notify your bank of your new address to ensure they are aware of your status and when it changes.

If you are resident in the UK and move money from your offshore bank account to one in the mainland UK you should only be taxed on any interest that is being transferred. Unlike UK bank accounts, where interest is taxed on an annual basis and partly deducted at source depending on your tax bracket, offshore banks operate a system of ‘gross roll up’ of interest, meaning tax is not deducted. This means that if you transfer any interest earned offshore to the UK this must be declared just as you would declare income and may be subject to income tax depending on your total income and marginal tax rate.

I work for a five-star hotel in the UAE and have finished my probation period. My employer, however, wants to extend my probation period by one more month. I have signed a paper to agree to this extension. I only found out my notice period had been extended after my agreed notice period had ended. I am concerned they are taking advantage as I don’t know the law and I want to know what are my rights. AN, Dubai

The issue of the rights of employers and employees is covered in UAE Labour Law and this applies to the hotel and its staff. Article 137 of the 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, if AN has already been with the hotel for six months, his probation period cannot be extended and he will be considered a permanent employee under UAE law. If, however, the initial notice period was for a shorter period and the additional month takes the total period to no more than six months, the probationary period can be extended with the agreement of both parties. As AN has signed a letter to this effect, this will be considered to be his agreement to the extension provided the law has not been breached.

I have employed a maid for several years but my children are now grown up and she will be leaving the country to return to The Philippines. I want to make sure she gets what she is entitled to but she says the law has changed and now all helpers must be paid an end of service gratuity. I have not heard about this. If a gratuity is payable, does this have to be backdated to the start of service, so for six years - which would be very expensive for me, or just from when this new law was passed? How is it calculated? SN, Dubai

Legislation to protect domestic workers came into effect in September 2017 and this law, Federal Law no 10 of 2017, was designed to clarify the rights of all domestic employees and as well as housemaids. The law also covers domestic drivers, nannies, privately employed tutors and coaches, private nurses and a few other specified categories. It covers the way that contracts of employment are set up, days of rest, holidays, working hours, terminations and disputes and states that their employment rights fall under the remit of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

When this new law was initially discussed, there were suggestions and requests that it included a gratuity payment but this is not mentioned on any UAE Government sites, so I am given to understand it did not make it into the final legislation. This means there is no legal requirement for employers to pay any gratuity to domestic staff on termination of their employment. That said, there are many cases where individual households decide to make a lump sum payment to their employees when they leave but they are under no legal obligation to do so and any payment is entirely discretionary.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 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: February 9, 2019 03:29 PM

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