x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

On Your Side: Even free-zone firms must follow Ramadan hours

Plus questions about whether Ramadan working hours apply to airline staff, retrieving a missing deed, and whether a company must justify making a worker redundant.

Reduced Ramadan hours are difficult to maintain for most airline staff, since they don't work a standard week and they cannot have their time in the air reduced for long flights. Sammy Dallal / The National
Reduced Ramadan hours are difficult to maintain for most airline staff, since they don't work a standard week and they cannot have their time in the air reduced for long flights. Sammy Dallal / The National

My company will not reduce the working hours for non-Muslims as it should do by law, which, per your column last week, comes under Article 65 of the UAE Labour Law. I have spoken to the director, but she said they are not doing it and if I am not happy, I can go to court. I am going to report the company to the Ministry of Labour, but if an investigation starts, my director will know who reported the case and I will lose my job. Is there any solution to make my director follow the law without losing my job? I work for a free-zone company. KA Abu Dhabi

This is a tricky situation for KA and other employees in this position. The employer is breaking the law and, while complaints can be made to the Ministry of Labour, there is no guarantee it will take action or when it will do so. The attitude of this employer is not in the spirit of the Holy Month of Ramadan and they are arrogant to assume they can flout the law because it also applies to free-zone companies. It is also unfair to threaten staff with redundancy for wanting to be treated fairly under the law. I can only suggest that KA politely points out the law to the employer and hope that reason and kindness prevails.


It is with great interest that I read your comments about reduced working hours during Ramadan, according to the UAE Labour Law. I am a crew member working for a UAE airline. Our HR department has sent us an email that says: "Pilots and cabin crew are not eligible for reduced working hours during Ramadan since they have provisions made via their rosters and duty-hour payments." Our rosters and duty-hour payments are the same during Ramadan as for the rest of the year. GM Dubai

This is difficult because most airline staff don't work a standard week and they cannot have their time in the air reduced for long flights. My view is that total working hours must be taken into consideration, but I suspect that contracts are written in such a way that reduced hours for one month of the year do not apply. If the employee signs the contract, this would be valid. That said, consideration should be given to any staff who are fasting, not least from a safety point of view.


My mother recently died and my father, who lives in the UK, has Alzheimer's and is unwell. Although I live in Abu Dhabi, I am trying to sort out my mother's estate, but have not been able to find any deeds for their house. I have spent days searching and have asked their bank, but have run out of ideas. I am hoping you will have a suggestion for what I should do next. I believe my parents bought the house around 1965 with a mortgage, possibly from Woolwich, and the property isn't registered. Woolwich, now Barclays, cannot find any record of it. Is there any other way of tracing lost deeds? PG Abu Dhabi

I understand that Barclays has rechecked, but again found no record of your parents having a mortgage with the Woolwich Building Society, or of leaving any deeds with it for safekeeping. You have checked your father's bank statements for the past year, but there are no annual payments being made to anyone else to store them. Your last resort is to apply to the Land Registry for registration based on lost documents. This does not give secure title to the property, but you will be able to apply for this after 10 years. If the house was registered, you wouldn't need the deeds. The registry's website is www.landregistry.gov.uk. The relevant form can be downloaded and posted to them, together with a fee of £12 (Dh68.37).


I have been working for a large multinational company that has a branch office in Dubai. My employer recently gave me 30 days' notice of redundancy. I am on an unlimited contract. I believe the reason is that I informed my company in writing some months ago that I was considering studying for a PhD in my home country if I was accepted. I have been told that they have already hired a replacement even though they were happy with my performance. Is it legal to make someone redundant if they have done nothing wrong and the position is to be filled by someone else? VA Dubai

It is not essential for an employer in the UAE to give a reason to make an employee redundant and the concept of "unfair dismissal" does not apply. The employer only has to provide 30 days' notice without explanation. Provided you have been employed for more than 12 months, you are entitled to be paid an end-of-service gratuity. This is calculated on your final basic salary of 21 days' per year for the first five years and then 30 days after that. You should be paid in lieu for any annual leave days that you have not yet taken.

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