x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

On Your Side: Car loans through dealers can lead to surprise lenders

Plus questions about breaking a limited-term labour contract and Ramadan working hours for housekeeping staff, answered by our consumer advocate Keren Bobker.

Unexpected collections calls from Emirates NBD unearthed a years-old small claim. Jeff Topping / The National
Unexpected collections calls from Emirates NBD unearthed a years-old small claim. Jeff Topping / The National

I hope you can help stop a bank from bothering me. I have received at least 10 SMS messages from Emirates NBD (ENBD) asking me to contact them urgently. I have never had any dealings with the bank, nor had an account with them during my seven years in the UAE. Can you get them to stop? AK Abu Dhabi

I put the question to ENBD, which said: "Our group service quality team has looked into AK's concerns and have addressed the matter. According to our records, AK had an active auto-loan account, which surfaced in the collections recoveries queue for non-payment of a meagre outstanding amount. We have arranged to reverse the remaining dues on her loan account and further wish to assure you that there would be no future communications sent to the customer in this regard." When I passed this message on to AK, she was surprised. She said: "I had an auto loan from February 2006 to December 2006. But since it was arranged by Al Futtaim Auto Mall in Abu Dhabi, I never considered it to be with Emirates NBD, which didn't exist at that time. I don't remember which of the two parties it was. I had given a hefty down payment and monthly instalments until the loan was paid up at the end of 2006. I gave the company a series of cheques as requested and all were cashed. Had there been leftover costs, I would have paid them. But I was not contacted to ask for any monies. I never had any communication from ENBD regarding that loan or anything else until the SMS avalanche started this year." It seems unusual that nearly six years after the loan had been repaid that a bank should start requesting an additional trivial amount that is less than the cost of collecting it.

 

I just wanted to clarify if hotel staff are entitled to work six hours a day like other employees during the month of Ramadan. I am asking this because my wife has suddenly been asked to work 10 hours a day. Although she tried to say no, she was forced to work and her employer mentioned that she is not Muslim. Is there some sort of official directive she can show them to see if they will listen, or will she have to report them to the Ministry of Labour? DJ Abu Dhabi

Article 65 of the UAE Labour Law states: "The maximum normal working hours for adult employees shall be eight hours per day or 48 hours per week. However, working hours for the employees of commercial establishments, hotels, restaurants, watchmen and similar operations may be increased to nine hours per day as determined by the Minister of Labour... During the month of Ramadan, normal working hours shall be reduced by two hours." Because DJ's wife works in the hospitality industry, her hours should be reduced to a maximum of seven per working day. It does not matter whether an employee is Muslim or not. The law applies to all employees.

 

From September 2010, I was working as a teacher at an institution. They accepted my resignation and I was relieved from my duties in June 2012, the end of the academic year. What kind of benefits will I lose if I didn't complete my labour contract, which was dated from October 24, 2010, to October 23, 2013? If they have not treated me fairly in respect of the labour contract, is there any chance to get those benefits? HH Dubai

HH was employed by a private school, so the UAE Labour Law applies. Because he was on a limited contract, if he resigned for reasons other than those under Article 121 of the UAE Labour Law, which generally cover non-payment of salary or assault, he becomes liable for compensating the employer against losses incurred by him for breaking the contract early. The law says the amount of compensation can't exceed half a month's pay for a period of three months or for the remaining period of the contract, whichever is shorter. Because more than one year's service was completed, HH is entitled to an end-of-service gratuity, but it is possible that he will not be paid anything if this is used to offset what he owes the employer for resigning. HH should ask for a breakdown of the final salary payment so he can see how it has been calculated and to ensure that he has been treated fairly.

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