x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

If I was seconded here, do I receive a gratuity?

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I wondered if you can help me. I am a UK expatriate employee on secondment to the UAE and have been here 10 years. I have a normal employment contract registered with the ministry, but I have an overriding secondment contract from my UK employer, which is not registered with the authorities in the UAE. The secondment contract is a fixed term ending on December 31, and my employer has told me that it will not be renewed and I will be repatriated back to the UK at the end of December. The question is, do I have the right to claim gratuity from my local employer?

My secondment contract stays silent on this. KF Dubai In the vast majority of cases, standard UAE labour law applies, no matter what any other contracts may state, unless the other contract offers preferential terms. I do not see how a secondment contract could override a UAE labour contract that should have been filed with the ministry. The labour law states that gratuity is payable without prejudice to what is stipulated by the policies of some establishments in the granting of pensions or retirement benefits to employees, so unless you have formally waived your right to receive an end-of-service gratuity, you are still entitled to be paid it at the end of your contract.

I would be very grateful if you could clarify a query I have relating to gratuity. I have been paying into a pension scheme since I arrived in Dubai in 2006, which my company also contributes to. I am unsure as to whether I am entitled to gratuity or not, due to the pension contributions. The response from my company confirms that I am ineligible, however, Article 141 contradicts this. My contract does state that gratuity is only payable if the employee is not a member of a group pension scheme. Can you please clarify where I stand on this as there is a substantial gain for me if I can forfeit my pension payments and claim my gratuity? MK Abu Dhabi

A similar letter to the previous one, but in this case, it appears that MK has signed a contract waiving his right to receive an end-of-service gratuity. I have seen a copy of the signed paperwork and MK's contract of employment states: "Under UAE Labour Law, the employee is entitled to receive with an end-of-service benefit or remain a member of a company's pension scheme. The end-of-service gratuity is therefore only payable if the employer is not a member of the pension scheme." Furthermore, it goes on to state that "if the employee is a member of the company pension scheme but subsequently elects to leave the scheme, he will begin to accrue end-of-service gratuity from the date he left the pension scheme and this will constitute the revised start date for the end-of-service gratuity accrual".

It is therefore clear that he has accepted an alternative to the standard UAE end-of-service gratuity, but has the option for pension contributions to cease and for gratuity to accrue at any time. Without knowing the contribution levels and details of the pension arrangement, I cannot advise which is the best option, although MK should be aware that pension contributions of this nature (a Group Personal Pension) may only continue for the first five tax years that he is UK non-resident for tax purposes.

I have recently moved to Abu Dhabi and brought my cats with me. I would like to insure them, but am having problems finding a company that does this. Can you give me details of any companies that will do this? DF Abu Dhabi I regret to advise that at the moment, to my knowledge, there are no insurers offering pet insurance in the UAE. The providers that have in the past offered such a contract have withdrawn their policies and say they have no plans to reintroduce them.

I am considering exiting my current mortgage deal in the UK and switching to another mortgage either with the same lender or a different one. As I am living abroad and not living in the property, would I need to apply for a "buy to let" mortgage? RB Abu Dhabi It is essential that the lender is aware that you will not be using the property as a main residence and any mortgage will be underwritten accordingly. Any residential property that is not to be a main residence is generally classed as a "buy to let" and the underwriting requirements are slightly different as the rental income is taken into consideration and is usually required to be enough to service the mortgage borrowings.

People who are not UK residents may still take out a UK mortgage, generally subject to a minimum deposit of 25 per cent of the property value. I have a standard UAE work-related residency visa, but my passport is due to expire in a few months' time, while the visa is valid for another 18 months. How do I go about moving the visa from one passport to another? Is it expensive or complicated? JD Sharjah

Usual practice is not to do this as it is not required. You should apply for a new passport in the usual way and then join the two passports with an elastic band. In fact, many are returned from embassies in this way. You will not be asked any questions when entering or leaving the country and will incur no additional costs. Just keep them together and if you are required to provide a copy as proof of identity, make sure you provide copies of the information pages from both passports, as your residency visa will show the old passport number. When you come to get your visa renewed, you simply remove the old passport.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write to her at keren@holbornassets.com Letters can also be sent to onyourside@thenational.ae