x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

On Your Side: Plan to celebrate Christmas at your desk this year

Questions about working on Christmas, watching out for counterfeit technology, settling credit issues and more, answered by The National's consumer advocate.

I am a practising Christian, so Christmas Day is important to me. It is on a Sunday this year and my company is operating normally and I am expected to be working. I have asked my boss for a day of holiday, but he has refused. Because it is a religious holiday for me, can I insist on having the day off work? MV, Abu Dhabi

Christmas Day is not a public holiday in the UAE, so there is no legal right to have the day off work. If your employer approves a day of leave, then he can insist that it comes out of your annual holiday entitlement.

Last week, I went shopping for a new Apple computer and found what I wanted at a good price at a store in Computer Plaza in Bur Dubai. It looked perfect, was in the right box and had a serial number on it, so I bought it thinking I had made a saving. When I tried to register the computer online for warranty reasons, the serial number was deemed invalid by Apple's website. When I rang the Apple helpline and quoted the serial number, I was told that it was not a valid number and that essentially the machine was a fake, even though it looked right. I returned to the shop where I bought it and insisted on speaking to the manager and explained that I had spoken to someone at Apple who had questioned its legitimacy. After some negotiation, during which I pointed out that I am aware of the law (thanks, in part, to what I have read in your column), he returned my money in full. However, I would like other people to be aware of the fakes that are being sold to the unwary. CS, Dubai

Fortunately, CS was able to obtain a refund of all the money that he spent, but it is a valuable lesson for people to learn. Apple has a number of authorised resellers in the UAE and I would recommend that people only buy from them or use Apple's online store. Any company that sells fake products, of any description, is breaking the law and should be reported to the Consumer Protection Division of the Department of Economic Development.

 

I was a resident of Dubai until June this year, when I left for a visit to my home country because my father was ill. I stayed longer than I was expecting and have not returned, although I now have a job offer to go back. The problem is that I have a credit card and I have not made any payments on it since I left and I am now afraid that I might be arrested if I come back, even though I do have the money and want to pay the bank. The amount owing was Dh6,000 plus interest. What can I do to make sure I am not arrested at the airport? AP, Lahore,Pakistan

There are two things that you need to do. Firstly, contact the bank to let it know that you want to make a payment and to find out if it has taken any action against you. If you have not made payments for some time, your bank may have tried to cash your security cheque. If this bounced, the bank could have made a police report. The police would then have tried to contact you, obviously without success, and could have a warrant for your arrest. The police will usually notify the immigration authorities, so you could be arrested for non-payment of debt on arrival in the UAE. If the bank is not forthcoming with information, you can ask a friend in the UAE to go to any police station, with a copy of your passport, to ask if there are any cases open or outstanding against you. Even if there are none at the time of checking, that doesn't mean there won't be by the time you travel, but you should at least get an idea of action taken so far. If there is a case outstanding, you would need to clear the debt and ensure that the bank has fully withdrawn any complaint and that there is nothing further outstanding on either the police or immigration systems. I would also recommend getting this in writing from the bank before entry.

 

I have given notice to my current employer and am due to work my last day on December 20. Within a few days, I plan to leave the country to go back to Australia for the holidays and will not be coming back. I still have my residency visa in my passport and as the main HR person is away, I have been told that the company will not be able to cancel the visa before I leave. Is this likely to cause me a problem? I have no intention of ever returning, even for a vacation. RR, Dubai

My advice is that your residency visa and labour card should be cancelled before you leave the country permanently. If this does not happen, you run the risk of being reported as an absconder and could be arrested if you return to the UAE, even if you are in transit to another country. The cancellation of a visa is a relatively straightforward process and there is no reason why someone else in your company could not do this, especially if it employs a regular PRO. In Dubai, the procedure is quicker and easier than in the other emirates because it only requires a visit to the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD) rather than separate trips to the DNRD and labour offices. Note that for employees in a free zone, their sponsor is the free-zone authority itself, not the employer, so visas have to be cancelled by the authority.

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