Readers have questions about retirement packages and end-of-lease responsibilities.
On Your Side: End of service gratuities are capped at two years' pay
I will shortly be retiring and have worked for my current employer for 27 years. I understand from having looked at the UAE Labour Law that I am entitled to 30 days' pay for each year of service. I am on a basic salary of Dh55,000 per month. By my calculations, I am owed an end-of-service gratuity of Dh1,410,410, but the company is saying that they only have to pay me Dh1,320,000 by law. Can you clarify this? - BC Dubai
Article 132 of the Labour Law states that a person is entitled to "21 days' pay for each year of the first five years of service and 30 days' pay for each additional year, provided that the entire total remuneration shall not exceed two years' pay. Based on this, your entitlement would be Dh1,383,287. But because your end-of-service gratuity is capped at two years' salary, it would be Dh1,320,000.
We will be moving out of our apartment in a few weeks. The landlord has said he will send someone to inspect the apartment and in his words, "Let us know how much repairs will cost". The apartment is, and always has been, kept very clean and there is no damage. However, in the lounge room, there are four or five picture hooks nailed into a wall. When we moved from our last place, there were some picture hooks up, but the landlord never said a thing and paid back the full deposit. My suspicion is that our current landlord is going to have the place painted and try to charge us. Is this normal? And do we have to pay because it is in decent condition and we have only been there a year? - MV Dubai
It all depends on the wording in the rental contract that you signed. Unless your contract states that you have to repaint the apartment on vacating, then it is not your responsibility. Putting up things such as curtain rails and a few picture hooks are classed as normal wear and tear. Generally, you are obliged to return the property in the condition it was received with standard wear and tear. It is usual for a landlord to arrange for repainting between tenants, but that is not your responsibility. I strongly recommend that everyone reads their tenancy contract in full before signing it and ensures that issues such as these are documented to avoid these problems at the end of a tenancy.
I have had a number of issues with HSBC. Although I have contacted the bank, I am not getting anywhere and need your help. Firstly, we made a transfer to a currency-exchange company, but for some reason I was not able to do this electronically so had to go to a branch and complete a form. Although we requested that any charges were paid by the recipient, we were debited. I dealt with two HSBC staff members, but neither made any sense. Then, going back to November last year, we were unable to open a joint account because I did not yet have a residency visa. Because of this, an account was set up in my husband's name, which included a credit card for both of us. In mid-February, we tried again to set up a joint account, but there was a problem opening the original account. It took nearly three weeks before the account was opened. In the interim, we received more than 20 system-generated emails telling us the account was opened and then cancelled. We had to visit the HSBC branch on three occasions to ask where our application was and had to complete more forms. The account was finally opened in mid-March, but the mobile number registered to me was incorrectly recorded on HSBC's system and so DHL was unable to contact me to deliver the card. My husband received his new debit card and two cheque books. I only received my card because I contacted DHL myself and managed to find out the shipment number once I had registered a formal complaint. To add insult to injury, Credit Shield was automatically added to our credit card. It took another complaint to have this removed and the charges refunded. Finally, my husband requested that my credit-card payment notifications should also be sent to me by SMS and now neither of us receive them. There has been one error after another and I hope you can help us to get these matters sorted. - JS Dubai
The litany of errors was passed onto HSBC and a few days later, the bank said: "Please note that we have contacted JS and an agreed solution has been reached to her satisfaction." The bank did not provide further explanation. However, I asked JS what happened and she said: "I think the bottom line is that they didn't know what they were doing/saying. Apparently, the Dh100 was the cost of transferring the funds internationally if you go into a branch, twice the amount they charge if you are able to do it online, but this will be refunded. They can't apologise enough about the multiple applications and system-generated emails and promise that all the points raised will be fed back to the people involved. Human error caused my mobile phone number to be recorded incorrectly, therefore DHL was unable to contact me."
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org