x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

You can trace a UK pension — but do so via the state agency

On your side: Keren Bobker answers a reader's question - and complaint - regarding late contruction work hours in Dubai.

You can use the state agency to trace a UK pension from as long ago as the 1970s.
Graham Barclay / Bloomberg News
You can use the state agency to trace a UK pension from as long ago as the 1970s. Graham Barclay / Bloomberg News

A couple of weeks ago you answered a query about finding an old United Kingdom pension. I also have a UK pension that I have lost track of, but it is more recent than the one you were talking about, so I assume that the way of finding it would be different. I was with this company from 1980 to 1986. It was taken over after I left and it seems it has either changed its name again or is no longer in business. WS, Al Ain

Legislation changed from April 1975, making it compulsory for schemes to grant a preserved pension for those aged 26 or over and who had completed five years within the scheme. Mr S falls into this category, but had he not, then a refund of personal contributions would have been paid. He should contact Britain's Pension Tracing Service with copies of any correspondence and his National Insurance number. (The Pension Service, Whitley Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE98 1BA, UK.) People should contact this government body rather than companies that claim to offer a free service but will then try to push people into pension transfers, which may be inappropriate.

 

I have been terminated after two months' working for a company in Abu Dhabi, located in a free zone. Effectively, I have worked there on a visit visa, since it failed to arrange the residency visa promised in the contract. The dispute is now about the end of service payment. The company wants to pay me only for the days worked, so until January 17 only. I want the full payment plus benefits, as per contract, of a one-month notice period. The use of a car was promised in the contract, but that never came about. The company did not pay the fees to get me a visa. Also the value of the medical insurance that again never came, and one quarter of the value of the plane ticket that is mentioned in the contract, as well as holiday days that I was building up but did not take. My question is, what do you think is my chance to win this dispute? Should I go to court? Or was I working illegally? The status is now that they have paid me until January 17 only. JH, Abu Dhabi

I note that you were on an unlimited contract, so according to the law you could have your employment terminated at any time during the probationary period, but you and your employer both signed a contract that stated "the first six months of the initial contract constitutes a probationary period during which either party may terminate the contract by mutual consent, by giving one month's notice". This is in excess of that required by law, but the contract terms are binding. This means, therefore, that if your employment was terminated on January 17, whether they wanted you to actually carry out any work or not, they are obliged to pay you for the 30-day notice period. This is legally known as "compensation in lieu of notice" and is in accordance with Article 119. You are not entitled to any payment in respect of medical insurance, as that is a "benefit in kind" and an employer is not required to pay any monies to an employee in respect of an employment visa. Days of holiday accrue over time, so you are entitled to be paid for full days accrued and not taken, but it is unlikely you would receive payment for a flight. The legal requirement is that at the end of service, the employer is obliged to pay for a flight for an expatriate employee to their home country - one way. If an employee chooses not to leave the UAE, no payment is due. It is illegal to work without a proper residency visa, but there is a grace period of 60 days after a person has started work, which should be plenty of time for any employer to arrange the proper visas. Failing to do so can leave the employer, and in some cases the employee, liable to a fine. If you have not already done so, you should make a complaint to the Ministry of Labour. There is little or no cost for this and while cases do not move fast, the ministry is usually very helpful and cases go through to resolution. If you were to engage a lawyer and go directly to court, not only is that likely to cost you in excess of Dh10,000 (US$2,722), you would be told to approach the ministry first as there are proper procedures in place to deal with such cases.

 

I live in The Marina, but there is a residential block being built very close to where I live. The building works have been going on late into the night, past 10pm on a regular basis and sometimes even past midnight. This is a major disturbance. Are they allowed to work throughout the night? NG, Dubai

I contacted Dubai Municipality for clarification and it advised that construction work is permitted between the hours of 6am and 8pm only. The exceptions are if there is concrete being poured, which is permitted 24 hours a day, or if the developer has special permission, but this is usually granted only for government projects on a deadline. I suggest you initially speak to the site foreman, pointing out the rules, but if the noise continues, then a complaint can be made to Dubai Municipality by telephoning 800 900.

 

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