x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

On Your Side: Al Jazeera English cagey on missing football commentary

Plus questions on company-provided medical insurance and when a commission-based employee becomes entitled to end-of-service payments, answered by our consumer advocate.

Al Jazeera English has not responded to several requests for comment over technical difficulties with their broadcasts of the European Football Championships matches. AFP
Al Jazeera English has not responded to several requests for comment over technical difficulties with their broadcasts of the European Football Championships matches. AFP

I paid for additional channels on Al Jazeera English to watch the European Football Championships, but the first few games did not have English commentary on the HD channels, which was what was advertised. I tried to get hold of Al Jazeera to find out why, but they did not respond. While the problem is now largely resolved, many viewers will have lost out - friends had the same experience - and I would like an explanation as we paid for something we did not get. SC Dubai

I have tried numerous times to contact Al Jazeera English, but they have ignored my requests, which were made by email, via their website and a Twitter account that is clearly active. I noted that other people had also sent tweets regarding the service, all of which were ignored. This is not what anyone expects from such a well-known company and is an unacceptable level of customer service.

 

I understand that under UAE Labour Law, in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, companies must provide their employees with health care, otherwise they will be in breach of the law. How does this rule apply if I am my husband's sponsor? I came to Abu Dhabi a few years ago on a single overseas contract. I am getting married in a few weeks and my husband will be joining me in August. He has a position in my workplace, so will be on a local contract, but I am to pay for his residency visa, health care and flights. The company is paying for his labour card only. My company is not changing my contract to a married one and I will have to pay for my husband's medical insurance on a separate policy to my own. The reason my PRO gave me is that I am on a single overseas contract. JG Abu Dhabi

If anyone is sponsored by an employer on an Abu Dhabi visa, the company is obliged to provide medical insurance. Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (HAAD) rules say that the employer must provide cover for the employee, their spouse and up to three children (up to the age of 18 years). If an employee's spouse is a resident in the UAE, then the employer must pay for appropriate cover (per HAAD guidelines) and cannot pass on the cost to the employee. This is the case whether the spouse works for the same company, works elsewhere or not at all and is entirely unrelated to the contract of employment. Furthermore, the HAAD website clearly says: "The law restricts the employer or sponsor from passing on the cost of providing health insurance to their employees and dependents, and such an act will be considered a violation of the law and shall hold the employer or sponsor subject to investigation and penalties. Complaints may be filed at the Complaints Unit at GAHS [General Authority for Health Services], if such a case occurs." JG should provide this information to her employer because their current action is against the law.

 

I have been working for the same company for four years and three months on an unlimited contract. My initial employment was a commission-based role, but after two years I was offered a managerial position within the company with a basic salary and also received a salary raise after one year. I have just been promoted to a higher position with another increase in salary, but this time the company has asked me to sign a document signing off my end-of-service gratuity payment, which it has based on the period of the last two years and three months of employment, excluding the period I was in the commission-based role. The document states that it is my full and final settlement of dues, with no claims whatsoever possible against the company in future. As far as I am aware, an end-of-service payment should be paid out, as it suggests, at the end of employment with a company and upon cancellation of the visa. Can my company force me to sign off my gratuity now? And if so, should it not be based on the four years and three months of employment, which is my actual duration of service up until now? As the gratuity payment increases after five years of employment for the same company, it seems my company is trying to keep this payment as low as possible. Is this legal? PE Dubai

According to UAE Labour Law, your end-of-service gratuity should be based on your full period of service. That said, it is not uncommon for employees on a commission-only basis to waive their rights to a gratuity payment, but this is only legal if both the employer and employee sign documentation to this effect at the outset. At this stage, PE's employer cannot force her to sign a document either waiving her right to receive it or to accept a one-off payment now. They also cannot pay out her end-of-service gratuity now and not make a further payment at a later date. PE should not sign this document and the employer is not acting within the letter or the spirit of the Labour Law.

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