x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

On Your Side: Labour rules free most professionals from work bans

It is expected that if an expat's family is in the UK, they retain a home there and remit income to the UK then they will no longer be classed as non-resident.

I am an architect with a master's degree and all my diplomas are translated into Arabic and the Ministry of Labour has copies of them. My business card states that I am a sales manager and project manager in a Dubai-based company, but my visa states that I am a sales executive for some reason. What I would like to know is whether I require a NOC (No Objection Certificate) when my employment with my present company ends, assuming I decide to leave, or do I not need it due to my education and diplomas? GC, Dubai

GC has only been in her current role since March 2010 and does not work in a free zone. Her employment contract states she is a sales executive, so that is her legal job title and position. It may well be that the employer chose this title as there are limited options and it may have been the most suitable. Historically, most employees who voluntarily left service working outside a free zone received an automatic six-month work ban, unless their employer provided them with a NOC, confirming they had no objection to the individual transferring their visa to start a new job. Under Cabinet Resolution 25 in the new rules introduced in January, anyone who has been in the same role for two years or more and is on an unlimited contract is no longer subject to a labour ban and therefore does not require a NOC. In addition employees classified as Professional Class One, Two or Three, with appropriate salaries - Dh12,000, Dh7,000 and Dh5,000 per month, respectively - do not have to complete two years of employment, the new duration of a labour card, to avoid receiving a ban. Provided GC is classified as being on one of these professional classes, which she is likely to be, she will not receive a ban if she decides to leave her current employer within two years.

 

I have just left the service of a large Dubai-based employer, after working there for a number of years. I have worked my notice and as far as I knew we were on good terms as I was leaving to pursue a career opportunity in my home country. My last working day was a week or so ago and I have received my final salary as well as the end-of-service gratuity as expected. I was also expecting to be paid a substantial bonus, but this was missing from the final settlement. This bonus is something that was due to most employees, at varying levels, based on their performance rating at a review earlier in the year. Each staff member was given a number reflecting their performance and the higher the number, the higher the bonus payable as a percentage of salary. When I asked why I hadn't been paid the bonus due to me I was told by the HR Department that it would not be paid as it was really a performance incentive designed to motivate current employees. Surely the company cannot do this, especially as we have been waiting for payment of these bonuses since January when they were confirmed in writing? HNJ, Dubai

HNJ has also sent me a copy of the newsletter sent to senior staff from the company CEO, which clearly refers to the structure of the bonus payment and states that the company will reward staff with bonuses for their work in 2010. It is therefore perfectly clear that he is entitled to receive the performance-related bonus and if the company does not pay he can make a formal complaint via the Ministry of Labour. This information was passed to HNJ who relayed it to his ex-employer and they have now confirmed the bonus will be paid in full. Companies should ensure their HR and finance departments are fully aware of the UAE Labour Law to avoid such situations arising.

 

I have a query about tax in the United Kingdom. I have recently moved to Abu Dhabi and plan to stay in the Middle East for a few years. My wife is still in the UK and has no plans to join me out here on a full-time basis until the end of next year at the earliest. As we will be keeping our house in London I would like to know if I will have to pay any tax in the UK if I send most of my salary back, as I have been given different answers. WE, Abu Dhabi

WE moved to the UAE in May, so provided he spends no more than a total of 91 days in the UK during the 2011/2012 tax year, he will be classed as a UK non-resident for tax purposes. This means that overseas income may be remitted to the UK without being subject to UK income tax. It should be noted however, that the rules are likely to change significantly from April 6 2012. While the regulations are not likely to be fully clarified until early next year, it is expected that if an expat's family is in the UK, they retain a home there and remit income to the UK then they will no longer be classed as non-resident and will be liable to pay tax on all of their overseas earnings. I stress that this is not the current situation and once the new rules are officially announced the topic will be covered in this column in more detail.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write to her at Keren@holbornassets.com with queries for this column or for advice on any other financial planning matter.

onyourside@thenational.ae