x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

On Your Side: End-of-service gratuities capped at two years

Plus, questions about terminating a contract during the probation period, transferring insurance and savings policies between agencies, and sponsoring a maid in the event of a wife's death, answered by our consumer advocate.

If you would like your financial adviser to continue to advise you regarding your existing policies, you can sign a simple change of agency request that will transfer the servicing rights for the plans to his new company. Silvia Razgova / The National
If you would like your financial adviser to continue to advise you regarding your existing policies, you can sign a simple change of agency request that will transfer the servicing rights for the plans to his new company. Silvia Razgova / The National

We have an employee who will be retiring shortly, having worked for this company in the UAE for nearly 35 years. None of us were aware that gratuity payments only began in 1980, so we don't know what to pay him. Can you clarify? - SB Dubai

According to UAE law, employees who were working before the law came into force in 1980 are not entitled to an end-of-service payment for that period. Gratuity calculations start at 1980 only. However, this is largely academic: Article 132 of the UAE Labour Law says: "The entire total remuneration shall not exceed two years' pay." Using the standard calculation of 21 days' pay for each year of the first five years of service and 30 days' pay for each additional year, the figure of two years' pay would easily be exceeded in this case. But the employer can make a larger gratuity payment should they wish to do so.

 

I have been dealing with a financial adviser who has recently changed companies. I have a life-assurance policy and a savings plan that he arranged for me. He has suggested that I cancel these and take out other policies via his new company. I was expecting him to offer me a better deal, but the new plans are identical to the old ones. He has assured me that this is not going to cost me any extra money and that he is only doing it so he can continue being my adviser. There is a load of paperwork to be completed and I don't see the advantage for me. NP Abu Dhabi

If you would like your financial adviser to continue to advise you regarding your existing policies, you can sign a simple change of agency request that will transfer the servicing rights for the plans to his new company. There is no need for the plans to be cancelled and rewritten, especially as you are likely to lose money in respect of the savings plan. The life-assurance policy may also cost you more as you are older than when the original plan was taken out.

 

Two months ago, I joined a bank in Abu Dhabi. The medical has been done and the bank has provided a visa with a salary of Dh8,000 per month. There is no involvement with the Ministry of Labour. I have a contract with the bank that says the probation period is for six months and after completing this, I will be confirmed as a permanent employee in the bank. It also says that during the probation period, any party can terminate the contract with one day's notice. After completing the probation period, any party can terminate the contract with a 30-day notice period, it adds. There is no mention of a fixed term the employee has to serve in the offer letter. I have now received another offer from another bank on a much higher salary and want to take this up. I have a post-graduate degree. How can I get a release from my current employer if I want to join the new bank? Can I resign during my probation period with one day's notice without having any problems from my current employer? Since the bank has given me a visa, is there any immigration ban if I resign within the probation period? MPK Abu Dhabi

If someone is in their standard six-month probationary period, they may immediately resign at any time without explanation, especially if they are on an unlimited contract. The employee is entitled to full pay for the time worked. It is up to the employer to cancel the residency visa and labour card. While the UAE Labour Law states that this is the responsibility of the employer and they should bear the cost, it is not unusual for employees to have signed contracts stating they must refund these costs if they leave within a certain amount of time. This is enforceable. Even if the employee has not had any contact with the Ministry of Labour, it would have been involved at some stage with the issuance of a visa and labour card. An employee can receive a ban for resigning during the first two years of employment, but my understanding is that this can be lifted if the individual has a bachelor's degree, or higher, and the new salary is at least Dh12,000.

 

My wife and I have been putting our financial affairs in order. As we have an infant child, what would happen if my wife died? We have wills in place, but I would need to employ someone to take care of our baby full-time as I work. Would I be able to sponsor them? I note that you said last week in your column that single men can't sponsor a maid. PW Dubai

This in an interesting situation because the law does indeed state that only married men, living with their wives, can sponsor a maid. A widow or divorced woman my provide sponsorship, but a man in the same situation is not permitted to do so. But one option in this situation is to employ a maid via an agency. The maid can be provided six days a week, but she would not be allowed to live in.

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