x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Can I return to UAE if I have outstanding loan repayments?

Expert Keren Bobker answers your legal questions related to life and work in the UAE.

A reader had an issue with an outstanding personal loan with Emirates NBD bank. Jeff Topping/The National
A reader had an issue with an outstanding personal loan with Emirates NBD bank. Jeff Topping/The National

I passed this query on to my contacts at Emirates NDB who appreciated the urgency and promptly investigated. Just two days later a spokeswoman for the bank advised: "We are pleased to inform you that we have contacted Ms A and discussed with her the settlement process of her liabilities. Further, we confirm that there is no police case filed against her at this stage. As agreed, she will be arranging for someone in the UAE to coordinate with our collections team on her behalf in order to settle her outstanding liabilities with us." Ms A has confirmed that she has been in contact with the bank and has made arrangements to settle the debt.

q. I have to resign from my current job but I cannot give 45 days' notice as is written in my contract. I need to resign with only two days' notice. I am ready to pay whatever the company wants. Is it possible, or can they keep me here? I just want to go back home. EG, Dubai

a. If someone has signed a formal contract of employment agreeing to a 45-day notice period, then this is legally binding. Despite that, the company can agree to let an employee leave sooner, but that is entirely at the employer's discretion and the company would also need to cancel the employee's visa before departure.

q. I have been in my job for six years and I now want to leave as I have a letter offer from another company that I want to accept. I am worried that I will have a problem as my company does not want me to go. I need to know if they can stop me leaving or not pay me as punishment. Also I have a loan for my car and I have heard stories about people having bank problems if they change jobs and getting into trouble. I have never missed any payments so far. Can you please let me know what is the legal case and how I can change to this better job? PK, Sharjah

a. Mr K is on an unlimited employment contract and this states that he has to give 30 days' notice if he wants to leave employment. Provided he gives this in writing, then the employer has no option but to accept this. He is then entitled to full pay for the period of notice, together with an end of service gratuity payment. This is calculated on 30 days' pay for each year of service, using his basic salary. There is no reduction even though he is resigning as he has worked for the company for more than five years. There should be no major issues in respect of the bank loan, but he should notify the bank of the proposed change to his circumstances and provide them with a stamped letter from his new employer with details of the new job and salary so that the bank can see that he will have no difficulty meeting his future loan repayments. While it is standard practice with most banks for accounts to be frozen upon receipt of a payment marked "final salary", this should be overturned quickly given the circumstances.

q. My husband and I have been living in Abu Dhabi for five years and it looks like we will be here for many years to come. We own a house outside Sydney that we bought not long before we left Australia. We have no plans to return to that area and are thinking of selling the house, so we would like to know if we would have to pay any tax on any money we make from the sale. Would we have to pay tax to the ATO [Australian taxation office] or are we exempt as I understand we are no longer considered Australian residents? We want to buy a property elsewhere so we need to know exactly how much cash we can release. SB, Abu Dhabi

a. According to the ATO, you have six years from the time you rented out your own house to sell it without any capital gains tax liability. This exemption applies on the basis that you do not own another family home anywhere in the world and I understand that this is the case as you are renting an apartment. Provided you sell within this period of time you will not have any tax liability, but if you exceed the six-year period, capital gains tax will apply on a pro-rata basis. This is charged in the same way and at the same rates that an individual pays income tax.

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