Plus questions about working past an expired visa, obtaining a driving license on an investor visa, and short-term work visas, answered by The National's consumer advocate.
Labour law allows students to work on part-time basis
My son is a full-time student at a university in Dubai, but would like to work parttime to assist with expenses and give himself some pocket money. Is he permitted to do this? He has spoken to his sponsor, which is the university, but the staff working there do not understand what he is asking or have no idea. Can you tell us if he can work legally? AK,Dubai
Following certain changes to the UAE Labour Law in January, university and college students who are sponsored by their place of education can legally work part-time subject to specific conditions. Limited information is available and I suspect certain details have still to be ironed out, but I understand that the student must apply directly to the Ministry of Labour for a part-time work permit. These permits are valid for a period of one year and cost Dh500.
I read your comments about gratuity payments in the May 14 issue of Personal Finance. My husband was recently given verbal notice to leave his company. They then told him to submit a letter of resignation or they would force him out of the company. My husband is aware of the company "forcing" people out before and didn't want to risk his reputation being tarnished, so he reluctantly submitted his resignation letter. He's currently working out his notice, which finishes at the end of June. However, his visa expires at the start of June. What is his legal position in regard to his company not renewing his visa even though his notice period ends after it expires? Also, what gratuity will he be entitled to as a result of being forced to resign? JH, Dubai
It is unacceptable for companies to treat staff in such a manner. The company must provide him with a valid residency visa and labour card, no matter how short the period or cost to the company. Unfortunately, because your husband has resigned, as opposed to being made redundant, he will now only be entitled to a significantly reduced end-of-service gratuity. The standard gratuity is calculated at 21 days' pay for each year for the first five years of service and pro-rata for partial years. The gratuity is reduced to just one third of this if an employee resigns. I also suggest that your husband contact the Ministry of Labour helpline (800 665) to make a case against the company.
I was a resident of Dubai until 2008 and have a driving licence that comes up for renewal in 2012. I own property in Dubai and am eligible to get the investor visa. I understand that after a change in rules in 2009, such a visa is valid for an initial period of six months and can then be extended further. Can I renew my driving licence on an investor's visa? DS, Bahrain
Individuals who own property with a value of more than Dh1 million may apply for a property-related investor visa, which appears to be more like a visit visa in nature. This is valid for six months only and has a fee of Dh2,000 each time. This type of visa can be renewed indefinitely, but the visa holder must exit the UAE and re-apply at expiry, although there is no requirement to remain outside the country for any time. I have spoken to the Road Transport Authority (RTA) about somebody on this type of visa obtaining a Dubai driving licence. Because it is not a permanent residency visa, the RTA says the person may not have a UAE driving licence. Only people on a permanent visa can have a local licence and purchase a vehicle. Someone on a property-related visa must have a licence from their home country and an international driving permit. This will allow them to drive a rented vehicle, or one owned by a first-degree family member if the insurance company permits it. In addition, if DS has an existing Dubai driving licence, it is no longer valid because she does not have permanent residency, regardless of the expiry date on the licence.
I work for a small company in Dubai that is a branch office of a large company in the UK. We want to bring over a few of the UK employees for a short period to help with a project, but do not want to go to the trouble and expense of providing residency because they will only be needed for a limited period. Is there any way they can legally work in the UAE without residency? RS, Dubai
In the past, it was necessary to obtain a Mission Visa, which had broadly similar requirements to full residency visas. A change was announced in January stating that people between the ages of 18 and 65, who had not previously worked in the UAE, could apply for short-term work permits from the Ministry of Labour. These permits are valid for 60 days and may be renewed several times in one calendar year, but must be renewed before expiry. The charge is Dh500 on application and there are fines of Dh500 for each period of 10 days that it is overdue. Applications must be made on behalf of the employee by a company representative who has an electronic signature authority. Furthermore, I understand that after a person has been working on a short-term permit, it is possible for them to later have permanent residence and employment with the same company should circumstances require it.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write to her at email@example.com with queries for this column or for advice on any other financial planning matter.