x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Ministry of Labour is sympathetic to workers' rights

It was very disappointing to learn that Emirates Airline is complicit in the UAE's heavy reliance on credit cards. Is there any solid reason why Emirates don't allow the use of debit cards for over-the-counter transactions?

I bought a plane ticket at the Emirates Airline office in Abu Dhabi to attend a family funeral. While a more friendly customer service representative would have been appreciated, I was also disturbed to learn that I could not pay with my Visa Electron debit card. The unfriendly representative told me it was cash or credit card only, and I had to walk around the corner to use an ATM so I could pay by cash. I have never owned a credit card, as I believe it encourages irresponsible spending, and it was very disappointing to learn that Emirates Airline is complicit in the UAE's heavy reliance on credit cards. Is there any solid reason why Emirates don't allow the use of debit cards for over-the-counter transactions?

GL Abu Dhabi It's disappointing to hear of situations like this, so the queries were forwarded to Emirates Airlines for their comments. After investigation, they have advised as follows: "Our sales manager has tried to get in touch with GL using all her contact numbers, without success. We have upgraded her on her return flight, and Emirates' Airport Services staff will meet her in Sydney when she checks in. What had happened in our Abu Dhabi sales office was an individual mistake, and we have addressed this directly with the employee concerned. While we are sure that all of our sales staff are aware that Emirates accepts debit cards, we have since sent a reminder to all to avoid a repetition of this incident."

GL does not have international roaming on her phone, but I was able to contact her and inform her on the new arrangements. This gesture from Emirates is much appreciated and will make a difficult journey a little easier. I recently vacated my rented apartment and shifted to a new one. I kept the place clean for a year, and after seeing the apartment the landlord agreed to do a money transfer of the complete deposit amount to my bank account. It has been two weeks, and after repeated reminders via e-mails and phone the landlord is not responding. My contract has already expired and I have given the landlord the keys to the apartment. Is there a legal course I can take to get the deposit back from the landlord? SG Dubai

As the landlord has agreed that the deposit is to be refunded, there is no reason why he should delay payment. You are legally entitled to these funds, and if he refuses to pay you, can take your complaint to the police. You could employ a lawyer and take him to court, but the costs would be excessive given the amount to be recovered. I suggest, however, that you e-mail him pointing out that you are aware of your rights and will be taking legal action unless he makes payment in full within seven days. Remind him that you have the receipt for the deposit and the original rental contract, which specifies the amount. It's shameful for landlords to behave in this way.

I work for a company in Abu Dhabi and have not been paid my salary for four months. I want to know where I stand. Is it true that if you have not been paid for a certain amount of time that you can transfer your visa (if you find another job) without obtaining an No Objection Certificate (NOC) from your current employer? Also, is there a system over here to protect the rights of employees? JF Abu Dhabi

Your employer is breaking the law by not paying you; despite what some companies seem to think, this is not optional, regardless of circumstance. Sadly, I am hearing of more and more cases where companies are not paying their employees. The Ministry of Labour is particularly sympathetic and helpful in this kind of situation, and you have the right to take your case to them. The Ministry's helpline telephone number is 800655. Employees are not liable for court fees. Regarding the labour ban, it was announced in August 2009 that if an employee has not been paid for two months or more they have the right to change jobs without having to provide a NOC. Essentially, workers have the right to leave their employer without adhering to the required notice period if the company does not fulfil its commitments, as stipulated in the employment contract.

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