x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Will I be able to pay off a Dubai loan from new job in Bangkok?

On your side: Our resident consultant Keren Bobker answers readers questions on bank loans and labour laws.

Silvia Razgova / The National
Silvia Razgova / The National

I have just resigned from my job in Dubai to work in Bangkok and I currently have a loan in Dubai. I will be moving to Bangkok, where I will start work in the middle of May. As I quit my job here they will cancel my residence visa, but I wish to continue to send money from Bangkok to Dubai to the bank to pay back the loan until the end of my loan plan repayment. Will I have a problem when I leave the UAE with a loan in a bank here and no residence visa? MC, Dubai

The problem you will face is that it is standard practice for banks to freeze accounts upon receipt of a payment from your employer marked "final salary". The banks then generally want any debts to be repaid before they will unfreeze an account, or at least evidence that there will be continuing means to repay, preferably by way of a new job in the UAE. Depending on the bank, your new role and the amounts involved, the bank may allow you to continue making repayments from overseas, but that will be by individual agreement. You will need to approach the bank, but bring evidence of your new job and salary in Thailand, by way of a stamped letter from your new employer.

I have some questions regarding rules and regulations of labour laws. I joined a company in February in Abu Dhabi. I now want to quit my job. I have a lot of interview calls from other companies offering good salaries. I have an unlimited contract and my owner is a local person. I also have an-attested bachelordegree. My questions are: 1 Can I leave the company without completing the six-month probation period? 2 What kind of ban might I face? 3 Should I go to a free-zone company? 4 Should I complete the probation period and then go for a free-zone company? SA, Abu Dhabi

The UAE Labour Law is unclear on a few points relating to resignation during a probationary period, but my understanding is that while an employer can terminate employment without notice, an employee is required to give notice in accordance with either the contract of employment, or standard Labour Law provisions of 30 days' notice, assuming this is an unlimited contract. If an employee resigns from a job during their first year, there is usually an automatic labour ban of six months. In addition, the employer can request a one-year employment ban from the Ministry of Labour. While it is common practice for many employers to provide a NOC (letter of no objection) this will not exempt a worker who has been employed for less than a year and the only exemptions tend to be for some people who move to government-sector jobs. The same rules apply to moving jobs either into, or out of, and it is only when someone changes jobs within a free zone that a ban will not apply as the sponsor will not change.

I have recently moved to Abu Dhabi from Estonia and want to spend some time travelling around the other GCC countries. Once I have my UAE residency visa, will I be able to travel to them? Surely I won't have to get other visas? AH, Abu Dhabi

Having a UAE residency visa in your passport does not make it any easier to visit the other GCC countries. Only a limited number of nationalities may obtain visas on arrival, and Estonians are not among them. You will have to go through the process of obtaining a visa each time you want to travel.

I have been offered the opportunity to work in a company, but the boss has told me that I have to work for a trial period of three months before they will issue me with a residency visa. Do you think this would get me in trouble? I don't mind doing a visa run if that is the option. A friend of mine told me I could also set up a company in a free zone in Dubai and then just give myself a visa. But can you work for a certain company and receive a visa from another? FM, Dubai

It is illegal to work in the UAE without a proper visa. Both the employer and employee can be fined if caught, with the employee facing a fine of up to Dh50,000 (US$13,613) and potential deportation. The company is legally obliged to have applied for the correct residency visa at the time the employee started work and then has a grace period of 60 days to complete the process. In addition, working on such a trial basis would also leave individuals exposed as they have no comeback if the salary is not paid or there are other labour abuses. While it is theoretically possible to set up a company and issue yourself a visa, this permits the person only to work for the free-zone company, not for another company. It is also expensive, with set-up costs and annual fees of between Dh20,000 and Dh30,000 a year. You should be wary of working for any company that does not comply with UAE Labour Law.


Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com