x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

On Your Side: Taxi drivers can be fined for refusing to stop

Plus questions about probation periods with a new employer, salary breakdowns and tenants' rights, answered by The National's consumer advocate.

I was in Abu Dhabi over New Year and tried numerous times to hail a taxi late at night for my wife and I in the centre of the city. I lost count of the number of taxis that ignored my waving arm and failed to stop. One driver who we tried to speak to at a traffic light simply drove on. All of these taxis had on the yellow light, indicating they were vacant. In the end we ended up walking some four kilometres and as my wife has a bad back she was in a lot of pain. I am really disappointed as in Dubai taxis are legally obliged to stop and accept any fare. Is this not the same situation in Abu Dhabi? CF, Dubai

According to the Trans AD website, it is an offence for a driver not to stop and accept a fare and they can be fined for not doing so. You can make a complaint to Trans AD, but for this to be followed up you would need the taxi reference number.

I am employed as a security guard for a company in the UAE. My contract is for two years. I have finished the first year of the two-year contract. My question is: Is it possible to resign from my company and transfer to another? AH, Abu Dhabi

It appears that AH is on a limited contract so if he resigns before the end he can be penalised. If he wishes to leave employment before the end date the "employee becomes liable for compensating the employer against losses incurred by him in consequence of contract termination, provided that the amount of compensation, may not exceed half a month's pay for a period of three months or for the remaining period of contract whichever is shorter, unless the terms of the contract provide otherwise," per Article 116 of UAE Labour Law. If someone leaves a job within two years they can receive a six-month ban, but can apply to have it lifted if they fall into one of the following categories: minimum qualification held is a high school diploma; minimum salary in a new job is Dh5,000 for HS diploma holders, Dh7,000 for diploma holders, and Dh12,000 for bachelor's degree holders. The ban can also be lifted if the current employer provides a "No Objection" letter. The end-of-service gratuity is payable after a full 12 months service but will be reduced to just one third of the standard amount if someone leaves a job of their own accord.

 

I have been reading The National online as I have been planning to move to the UAE for a while. I have now been offered a job in Al Ain, but I am unsure about some of the terms in the contract sent to me and would appreciate your advice as to whether these are correct according to local law. There is a probationary period of three months and it seems that the employer can sack me at any time during this period. This is naturally quite worrying if I have only recently arrived, but does it also mean that I can just leave just as easily? We agreed a salary of Dh29,000 per month, but the contract states that only Dh15,000 of this is to be classed as basic salary, with the rest to be housing allowance and bonus. This was not discussed at any meeting and seems rather strange. Are these terms allowed? TB, UK

Under UAE Labour Law a probationary period must be no more than six months and during this period, both the employer and employee may terminate the employment contract with immediate effect without having to provide any reason. You should be aware that if you resign during the probationary period without good reason you will be liable to pay your own repatriation costs. It is not uncommon for a lower basic salary to be specified in an employment contract as the end-of-service gratuity is based on the basic salary, not on added allowances. It is a method that companies use to reduce their liabilities and is quite common, although the company's practice of splitting payment in this way should have been raised during one of your discussions.

 

My landlord has contacted me to tell me that we need to move out of our apartment by January 19. My contract doesn't finish until February 10 and I gave him two months notice to renew in December, making it quite clear that we wish to stay. He isn't registered through RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Authority) but I do have a signed contract for the next year and I am due to make the first of our quarterly payments shortly. I'd like to know if he can force us to move out as I am scared that he will physically make us do so. AL, Dubai

If you have a signed contract and have abided by the terms of this and the previous contract, then your landlord cannot make you move out at a whim. As he has agreed to renew then he must abide by the terms. If your contact has a break clause, then he must give you notice, but even then can only make you move if he plans to move into the property himself, or a member of his family wishes to do so. RERA is set up to protect registered contracts but as a tenant you may also register the rental agreement and thus fully benefit from their assistance. If the landlord is physically intimidating you should call the police as you are legally entitled to continue living in this apartment.

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