x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Recent pregnancy may not be covered by medical plan

I am about to move to Dubai and my wife will follow soon after. I have accepted a role with a medium-sized company, but have now found out that my wife is pregnant. Will this affect the job offer and will she get medical cover?

I am about to move to Dubai and my wife will follow soon after. I have accepted a role with a medium-sized company, but have now found out that my wife is pregnant. Will this affect the job offer and will she get medical cover? Are there any other issues that I should be aware of given our changed situation? NE UK

It is unlikely that an employer would retract a job offer, but I suggest that you speak to them as soon as possible to see if ante-natal and maternity care will be covered by the medical insurance scheme set up by the company. There is no legal requirement that cover be provided for people on a Dubai resident's visa and it is simply down to the terms of the scheme that was set up. I would be surprised if the scheme was generous enough to cover immediate pregnancy, but if it doesn't you will not be able to arrange private maternity cover either because plans all have a waiting period of a minimum of nine months. You will be able to purchase a fixed-price, ante-natal and birth package from the major hospitals. Once the baby is born, you will need to sort out a passport and residency, but you can speak to the British Embassy about the passport and your company PRO should assist with the residency visa. If not, it is a relatively straightforward process to sort out, or you can employ a company to handle the paperwork on your behalf. If it is not mentioned in your contract, you should also ask for the company to cover the cost of nursery and school fees. This may sound a long way off, but these are expensive and it is good to plan ahead.

I am Russian, but I took my driving test when I was living in America many years ago. I want to convert to a UAE licence because I now have UAE residency. However, I am told that this is not acceptable. I have been driving - quite safely, I might add - for more than 15 years, so surely this should not be a problem. NS Dubai

You need to have a "matching" passport and licence, from a list of 36 approved countries, to simply convert to a UAE licence. Russia is not on the approved list, leaving you no option but to apply to one of the authorised driving schools because you will need to take driving lessons and a signal and road test. Before doing this, you must obtain an NOC (letter of no objection) from your employer and take a standard eye test.

I am an Australian working in Abu Dhabi. I was first expatriated by my company's Australian affiliate to work in the UAE. My base salary was paid in Australian dollars and I was provided with living allowances (home, car, etc) in the UAE. The drop in the Australian dollar's value some years ago forced me to resign from my post after two years. I immediately rejoined the company as a contractor on an annual contract (local hire). My contract has been renewed every year for the past four years and it will probably be renewed for some years to come. My contract has no provision for end-of-service benefits. Is this legal in the UAE? If not, how many years am I eligible for? DB Abu Dhabi

The payment of end-of-service gratuity is part of standard UAE Labour Law, so employees are entitled to receive it whether or not it is mentioned in their contract. I understand, however, that DB was still a member of the company's superannuation (retirement) fund in Australia and that he had signed paperwork to waive his entitlement to the UAE gratuity, presumably as retirement contributions were still being made in Australia. In this situation, an employment contract will supersede the local rules because he effectively had no worse terms. This applies to actual employees only and someone who is contracted to provide a service on a freelance basis is not eligible. When DB recommenced work as a contractor, he was no longer an employee of the company. I have seen a copy of the current annual contract and there is a clause in this that clearly states that he is not entitled to receive benefits "afforded to the company's regular employees". To clarify, in these particular circumstances, I do not believe that DB has any entitlement to receive the standard UAE end-of-service annuity.

I have been an expatriate in the UAE since January 2007. I have filled out the form P85, provided by Britain's HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) department, and am classed as a non-resident of the UK. I now want to return to the UK, but need to get my timings correct to avoid the tax man. I have spent 32 days in the UK since April this year. When can I physically take up a new job in the UK without having to pay tax on income earned over here this year? CR Dubai

To remain a UK non-resident for tax purposes for the current tax year, CR must spend no more than 90 days in the UK between April 6, 2010, and April 5, 2011. Provided he does not exceed this amount of time, his overseas earnings will be exempt from UK income tax in this tax year. He could, therefore, return to the UK by mid-February to retain his non-resident status as requested via the HMRC's P85 form. CR has been a UK non-resident for such a short period, so it is likely that he will be liable for income tax on his overseas earnings between January 2007 and April 5, 2007. He will also be subject to UK income tax on all UK income in this tax year, over the standard personal allowance.

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.

Letters can also be sent to onyourside@thenational.ae