‘Am I entitled to a bonus after I quit my job?’

Abu Dhabi employee wants to know if she will receive a bonus for her work in the previous calendar year

Most bonuses are discretionary in that they are based on the employer’s decision and depends on work carried out, targets reached, company profits and so on, and are not guaranteed. Getty Images
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I am on an unlimited contract and receive an annual bonus. Our company has a financial year of January to December but bonuses are often not approved until April or sometimes as late as June.

If I leave my job in the first quarter of the year or any time before the bonus is paid, am I entitled to it? How can I receive the bonus if I have signed termination paperwork?

In addition, is a bonus only payable after completing a calendar year of work or could I be rewarded for half a year if I leave in July? CH, Abu Dhabi

The UAE Labour Law covers many issues relating to employment but not the topic of bonuses. This means that the payment of bonuses is a contractual issue based on the agreed terms and conditions of employment.

It is not uncommon for there to be a contract that specifies these terms in addition to the standard contract that is lodged with the Ministry of Labour or free zone. Any additional contract cannot contradict the official one nor can it contract around the UAE Labour Law to the detriment of the employee.

Most bonuses are discretionary in that they are based on the employer’s decision and depend on work carried out, targets reached, company profits and so on, and are not guaranteed.

When a bonus is payable should be set out in the contract of employment and/or company handbook. This should also specify if it is payable to anyone who leaves service before payment for the last calendar year is made.

In CH’s situation, her entitlement to a bonus if she leaves before the payment date depends on what the official company practice is and if it has been documented. Unless the contract states she is entitled to payment of a bonus for a previous calendar year even after leaving service, she cannot claim it.

The situation on receiving a bonus based on a partial year worked also depends on what is stated in the contract and terms of employment and/or the company handbook.

I have just found out that I am pregnant and the baby is due at the start of August 2022.

I plan to carry on working for as long as I can because I can’t afford not to work. I am also hoping to go back to work soon after the baby is born.

I don't want to tell my employer about the pregnancy and hope to keep it a secret until at least March next year.

My employer is not very supportive and has dismissed women from their jobs when they were pregnant in the past. I don’t know if the employer is allowed to do that.

What does the law say? I would like to know where I stand. AK, Dubai

Quote
The new legislation confirms that employers may not terminate, or even threaten to terminate, a female employee because she is pregnant or even when she is on maternity leave
Keren Bobker, senior partner, Holborn Assets

Firstly, congratulations on the pregnancy. While it is frowned upon to end the employment of a woman simply for being pregnant, there is no mention of this in the UAE Labour Law, Federal Law No 8 of 1980.

In some cases, it is possible to claim for arbitrary dismissal but that allows for a maximum compensation of just three months’ worth of salary.

The good news for pregnant women is that replacement labour regulations will come into effect on February 2, 2022. The new law will be Federal Labour Law No 33 of 2021.

The new legislation confirms that employers may not terminate, or even threaten to dismiss, a female employee because she is pregnant or even when she is on maternity leave.

This new legislation will protect AK if the employer tries to dismiss her at any stage of her pregnancy or for some time afterwards.

I am a biomedical engineer and want to move to the UAE to work with a specialist company. However, the company doubts that I will be eligible for a visa since I am 59 years old.

Is there a maximum age limit to secure a work visa to live in the UAE? BF, Brazil

There is a general perception that the UAE has an upper age limit of 60 years for employees. Although many companies use that age as a general retirement limit, there was an announcement in 2011, increasing the age to 65.

However, after the age of 60, residency visas are subject to approval by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and must be renewed annually, rather than every two or three years.

This is an additional cost for an employer and the cost of medical insurance also increases significantly as it is age-related. For these reasons, some companies may not be keen to take on employees aged 60 or above as it increases their costs. However, it also means that businesses can take on and retain employees with expertise.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with more than 25 years’ experience. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only

Updated: December 25, 2021, 5:00 AM
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