The National's consumer advocate answers questions about disputing a traffic ticket, taxes on a divorce settlement, questionable contract provisions, and traveling for Haj.
On Your Side: Police procedures allow drivers to contest traffic fines
I was checking to see if I had any outstanding fines on my car on the police website when I came across a fine for a time when I was not even in Dubai. Obviously this must be a mistake, but what can I do about it? I am just not happy about paying Dh600 for something I didn't do. CD, Dubai
There is a procedure which allows people to appeal against traffic fines. Visit the customer service department of Dubai Traffic Prosecution, which is located behind Dubai Police Headquarters in Bur Dubai. Once there, complete a form detailing the reasons why the fine is not justified, with evidence if possible. You must also provide proof of identity, so I would suggest taking along a copy of your passport and residency visa. I am told that the appeal process can take up to three weeks and if the police decide the fine was issued in error it is cancelled immediately.
My husband and I are getting divorced and as part of the financial settlement I will be receiving a significant amount of money. At the moment I am living in the UAE, but I plan to return to the UK once the divorce is finalised and I have received the money. We own two properties in the UK and I will be given one of these outright, without any mortgage on it, as part of the settlement. I understand that soon after I move back I will be considered to be a UK resident in respect of tax once again. What I would like to know is whether I will be taxed on the money I receive, or on the house, and if so, what is the best way to reduce any tax liability? HV, Abu Dhabi
Under UK law there is no tax liability on any of the assets transferred as part of a divorce settlement, so even if you become a UK resident once again you will not be subject to any tax on either the property or any monies that you receive. Once you take up UK residency you will however, be subject to income tax on any income, interest or rental income received.
I've been working in a private company since January 2012, and the employment contract is clear that working hours would be eight hours per day, Sunday through Thursday. However, the company is forbidding me to leave the UAE on weekends. This would not affect my work at the company since I was away on Friday and Saturday only. Is the company right? LG, Abu Dhabi
It is not appropriate for an employer to forbid an employee to leave the country during the weekends, or even at any other time, provided they do this in their own time or on approved holiday time. An employer should also not retain a passport to prevent an employee leaving. In this case LG's employer is not acting correctly and he can seek confirmation from the Ministry of Labour should it be required.
I have a medical insurance plan for my family with Aetna. We currently live in Dubai, but in a few weeks time will be moving to Abu Dhabi as I am changing employer. In an attempt to be efficient I contacted the insurance company to provide them with my new contact details and address, but to my surprise they told me that they had to cancel the plan and could no longer insure us. We have made only a few small claims so I was surprised at their action. Can they do this to us? PK, Dubai
The reason behind this is due to the fact that while you are currently on Dubai residency visas, you will be changing to Abu Dhabi visas. Aetna does not offer medical cover to Abu Dhabi residents as their plans do not comply with the rules issued by the emirate. All plans available to Abu Dhabi residents must offer specific benefits such as including maternity cover as standard. You will see, therefore, that Aetna has no choice in this matter. Employers based in Abu Dhabi are obliged to offer medical insurance to their employees so I suggest you start by speaking to your new company to see what level of cover they are offering you and your family. Since January 2007 it has been a legal requirement that all expatriates residing in Abu Dhabi have health insurance provided by their employer. The law also states that this should cover the employee's wife and family, including up to three children below the age of 18. I suggest you check your new contract and speak to your employer to confirm what cover is being provided with your new employment.
I want to go to Haj this year and have asked my employer as I need to plan in lots of time. I will need to take some time off work, but my employer will not say if I can have the days I want. I will need to book soon as this is a popular trip, but as it is a religious journey, can my employer stop me from going? What does the law say? MA, Sharjah
For Muslims, Haj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, is one of the greatest religious observances and, where possible, a Muslim is expected to undertake this journey at least once in his of her lifetime. In 2012, Haj is expected to fall between October 24 and 29, but as it is dependent on the lunar calendar there can be variation and so MA wants to take some holiday days either side of these dates. UAE Labour Law states that on one occasion during employment an employer must grant a Muslim employee special leave, without pay, to go for Haj, for a period of time which must not exceed 30 days. This does not form part of the usual annual leave provisions. If MA's employer does not want to grant permission for the standard paid holiday entitlement, he has no option but to permit him to take unpaid special leave for this reason.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org