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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

My wages are late and now my employer wants to pay by cheque - is that legal?

The reader is concerned that not receiving his salary directly into his bank account will cause issues 

The Wages Protection System was introduced in 2009 to ensure all UAE employees receive their wages in full and on time. Jaime Puebla / The National
The Wages Protection System was introduced in 2009 to ensure all UAE employees receive their wages in full and on time. Jaime Puebla / The National

My employer has been paying our wages late and now they are saying that they plan to pay by cheque rather than by bank account as before. This is obviously much less convenient but I would like to know if this is even allowed or if it will cause any other problems for employees. PS, Dubai

The Wages Protection System (WPS) was introduced in 2009 with the aim of overseeing and regulating the payment of salaries to all employees in the UAE. It is an electronic transfer system that is overseen by the UAE Central Bank and allows the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) to monitor payments and identify problems. It was announced that over time all employers must use the WPS and this has been codified in Ministerial Decree No. 739 of 2016 ‘Concerning the Protection of Wages’. The decree reinforces that employers must subscribe to the WPS and any that fail to do so will find that they will have issues dealing with MoHRE. Not paying employees via WPS is contrary to government guidelines and the employer could be subject to fines and be unable to take on any further employees.

In addition to the Governmental issues, not being paid properly by bank transfer can cause problems for an employee as they may have problems obtaining credit. Also, if someone has an existing loan, they may find that they are technically in breach of the contract terms if monthly salary transfer is a condition of the loan. In that scenario the bank could demand immediate repayment.

If the employer does not comply with the WPS, then employees can register a case with the Ministry.

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I have a query about a work visa being rejected. Some months ago, I went to Dubai and joined a company for a trial period of three weeks. I did not sign any contracts and because I decided that the job was no good, I came back to my own country. I then found another job, with a five-star hotel, also in the UAE, but when the hotel applied for my work visa it was rejected. I then found another job, signed a letter and when they applied for my visa it was also rejected. So now, I am wondering what the problem is. What can be done in this situation? AC, The Philippines

It is illegal for anyone to work on any kind of visit or tourist visa so I assume that the original employer made an application for a residency visa. If AC left without this being cancelled it will still be showing in the system and any subsequent applications will be rejected. If she left without giving notice to the employer, there is a possibility that she is listed as an absconder and is therefore banned from working in the UAE for six months or a year - another possible reason for rejection.

The first step is to contact the original employer and find out the situation regarding the visa. Assuming an application was made, AC should ask if it was properly cancelled or if there is black mark against her name? If the visa was not cancelled, that can be organised but if she has a ban no further action can be taken, or a further application approved, until this has expired. If the original employer has cancelled the visa, and there is no obvious reason for rejection, then there is little that can be done as the government is not obliged to disclose the reason for any rejection. An employer making the application can enquire as to why there is an issue but may not necessarily receive details.

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I worked in Dubai from September 2014 until June 2017 when my job was terminated. My visa was cancelled and I left the country leaving a bank loans and some credit card debts. I plan to come back and search for a new job next month so I would like to know what happens when someone does not pay back their debts. How many payments can I miss before the bank make a police case and I have a problem? SK, India

Generally, a bank will register a police case if three payments have been missed and there has been no discussion about how payments can be made. If however, someone has left the country and not made the payments due and the bank becomes aware of this they could immediately request that an immigration ban be placed on someone by claiming that there is intent not to pay the debt due. SK would be wise to contact his bank and a least make partial payments to try and prevent any serious consequences. Failing to make a payment is an automatic breach of contract, per the agreements that were signed, and banks have the right to take prompt action, especially if they are not informed of a situation.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 20 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.