x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Will translation not necessary, and neither is the cost

Financial adviser responds to readers questions on wills, salaries and workers' rights.

Earlier this year, my husband and I arranged new wills reflecting our current situation via a company based in the UAE. The costs were acceptable to us at the time, but now we are being told that it is essential that we have them translated into Arabic and attested at the courts, for which this company wants to charge us more than Dh5,000. Is this necessary? It seems very expensive. HY Dubai

HY and his wife were wise to organise new wills as they have young children and own property. The property, however, is not in the UAE and so upon death this major asset will not be subject to Sharia law in the UAE. They plan to return to Europe in the next couple of years and are both in good health. With this is mind, I do not believe that it is necessary for them to pay to have the wills translated at this time. The chances are that they will not die while living in the UAE, so these high costs would be a waste of time. In the unfortunate event that one of them does die, it is possible to organise the translation and attestation post-mortem. Other good news on this subject is that Judge Jasem Baqer, the head of the Preliminary Court, has issued a decision that wills for non-Muslims can be attested by the Dubai Public Notary with effect from next month. This should simplify the current complex procedure and reduce the fees, which are usually about Dh2,000 for both translation and attestation. The new fees are yet to be announced.

I have made a complaint against my boss at the Labour Office in Sharjah, as he is not paying me my full salary. The Labour Office called my boss and asked him for my salary, but my boss said that I had already been paid the amount that is in my contract of employment. My actual agreed salary is different to that in the contract as I have had an increment. I told the Labour Office people that I have pay slips for the past year showing what I have been paid, but they said that I am only entitled to receive what is shown in my contract. My boss said that he may pay the full amount, but only if I drop the complaint. Can you explain why the UAE law and the Labour Office are not saying the same thing? How can I prove what I am entitled to receive, as I am currently not even being paid my transport or housing allowance? KS Sharjah

KS's employment contract states that he will receive allowances for both accommodation and transport. It also shows his salary as Dh2,000 per month, although he had been receiving Dh5,000 per month. When he took up employment with the company, he was told that it was a company rule that the contract showed less, but each month he was receiving Dh5,000 and signing a voucher for it. In May of this year, the company started paying him just Dh2,000, stating that this is what his contract shows. This is sharp practice by an employer taking advantage of the initial naivety of an employee. It is very important that employees only sign a contract showing the full agreed salary and allowances as that is what the Ministry of Labour will deem to be the legal agreement. If anyone receives a salary increment, then this must be confirmed in writing for it to be enforceable. An offer of employment letter, which may have shown a higher salary, is not considered an official document. In this case, however, KS has proof of the salary he has actually been paid for a number of years, so that would appear to be evidence of a consistent payment. It is certainly the amount on which an end-of-service gratuity must be calculated. The Ministry of Labour states that items such as pay slips will be considered as evidence in the event of a legal investigation. As it appears that KS has only made a verbal complaint, I recommend that he puts his complaint to the Ministry of Labour in writing, setting out a summary of the full facts and with evidence of the regular salary paid. The application can be filed with the ministry upon payment of a registration fee of Dh100. There is sadly no guarantee that he will win the case, but it appears the only way to try to reclaim what he is owed. It is always disappointing to hear of such bad employers.

I am writing on behalf of my wife, who works for a private architectural firm. She has submitted her resignation after working for the company for some five years. Her employer is asking her to sign a document that prohibits her from working for another company for the next six months. The other clause is that if she violates this she needs to pay Dh5,000 to the firm. The employer has taken her Emirates Identity Card saying that it is needed to cancel her residence visa. The employer had asked her to submit a copy of the new residence visa (which I am planning to sponsor). Neither my wife nor I are fully aware of the law. Can you please advise us whether there is any discrepancy in the clauses? KC Abu Dhabi

While "non-competition" clauses are not uncommon in employment contracts, which are signed by both parties and thus enforceable in the UAE, it is odd that an employer should demand that one be signed after your wife's resignation. At this stage she cannot be forced to sign the document, especially as she no longer wishes to work for the company. The validity of the identity card is linked to the validity of a residency visa. The information on the card can be updated without need for a replacement and in the event that the residence visa is cancelled, the card will automatically expire. If an expatriate has their residency renewed, either directly via an employer or by sponsorship by a spouse, their identity card may also be renewed or reactivated, but my understanding is that there is no requirement for the employer to take the card at any time, neither do they require details of the new visa if she is no longer an employee.

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