x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

On Your Side: ADCB customer hits a roadblock over frozen account

Our consumer advocate answers reader questions about a frozen ADCB bank account, public holidays due to all UAE workers and the conditions of a labour ban.

A reader seeks help after Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank wrongly froze his accounts. Jaime Puebla / The National
A reader seeks help after Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank wrongly froze his accounts. Jaime Puebla / The National

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) has frozen my account and credit card because my wife's end-of-service payment was deposited into my account. ADCB now requires me to prove I am still employed despite my regular salary being paid into the account after the deposit for my wife. What is worse is that I am a gold client with ADCB and I pay Dh2,500 per year for the credit card so I can enjoy increased loyalty bonuses. Also, the outstanding balance on the card is automatically paid every month, so ADCB is at no risk. ADCB has made a mistake, they know it, but refuse to correct it. Do I have any alternatives for getting the account unfrozen or must I drag my employer into this? PC Dubai

I have seen PC's bank statement and it is clear that the payments in question have come from different sources. The amount outstanding on the credit card is also very low compared with the limit. I referred the issue to ADCB and action was taken promptly once someone looked at the accounts properly. The account was unfrozen and the credit card unblocked. PC is very happy with the quick response.

 

I have been told by my employer that because I am on a fixed salary, I do not get any public holidays, nor do I get any overtime for working those days. The only holiday I have taken since 2010 is one day for Ramadan and, of course, my leave every four months. I want to take the public holidays because I need the break. I get up at four every morning, leave just after five to get to work at six and come home after seven. It also states in my contract that I receive two hours for lunch, but it is only 1.5 hours and we have to work until 6.30pm. We received a memo yesterday stating that the hours have now changed. Should I be compensated or be granted the days as leave? MS Abu Dhabi

I have seen MS's contract and her employer, a well-known international company, is in breach of the UAE Labour Law on several counts. Article 74 says employees are entitled to official leave with full pay on 10 specified public holidays. If an employee is asked to work on one of these days, then they should be offered time off in lieu or paid for an additional day of work. Article 81 also states: "If exigencies of work necessitate that the employee work on holidays or rest days against which he receives full or partial pay, he shall be compensated in lieu thereof with increase in pay by 50 per cent of his wage, but if he has not been compensated for the same with a leave, the employer shall pay him an increase to his basic wage equivalent to 150 per cent of the days of work."

SW's employment contract states that the working day is 10 hours, although Article 65 states: "The maximum normal working hours for adult employees shall be eight hours per day or 48 hours per week." This increases to nine hours a day if working in hospitality. No more than 10 hours per day are permitted and if the employee is not in a supervisor or management role, then overtime should be paid.

While an employer cannot change the terms of a contract without the employee's approval, in this case the change is in accordance with a directive from the Ministry of Labour regarding working hours during the summer months. This is correct because employees must take a longer break during the middle of the day as they are prohibited from working outside at this time.

 

I am working for a private company that I joined on February 12, 2012. If I resign or they terminate me within my probationary period, would I get a ban? If I wanted to join another company, not in a free zone, how would I go about it? RB Dubai

If any employee is made redundant, they do not receive a labour ban, no matter how long or short a period they have been employed and they are then free to take up employment elsewhere. If, however, someone resigns from a job having been there for less than two years, there is an automatic six-month ban, including for employees still on probation. While an employer may be happy to provide a letter of no objection, this will not exempt workers from a ban if they have been with that company for less than one year.

There are some exceptions: possible payment of a ban-lifting fee (if approved by the Ministry of Labour) or moving to a job with the UAE Government. A ban would also not apply if a person is sponsored by a free zone and wishes to move to another company within the same free zone. In addition, if the employee has at least a high school diploma and a salary of Dh5,000 per month, a professional diploma and salary of Dh7,000 per month or a degree and a salary of Dh12,000 per month, they may apply to have the ban lifted by the Ministry of Labour.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com or onyourside@thenational.ae.