‘Is it legal for an employer to provide only one day off work?’

Employers are legally required to offer employees a paid weekend of not less than one day

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I have always had a two-day weekend in the five years I have been in the UAE. However, I am planning to change my job now.

I have been sent an employment contract that refers to one day off each week but with a provision to take two days off if work permits. Is it not the norm for employers to provide two days off each week for office-based work? GC, Abu Dhabi

While it is general practice for most office-based employees to have a two-day weekend, this is not a legal requirement.

“The worker shall be granted a paid weekend of not less than one day, according to the employment contract or the work regulation. It is permissible under a resolution of the Cabinet to increase the weekend day stipulated in this Article,” according to Article 21 of the new Labour Law.

This is to ensure that all employees have at last one day off work each week. An employer can also increase this in a contract of employment as changes can be made that benefit the employee.

It is customary for many staff to have two days off work and for employers to amend their contracts to provide this.

I have an offshore bank account and the bank has sent me a form to complete, which asks for my tax identification number.

I don’t pay tax on my UAE earnings. Does this mean I have to provide a UK reference or will I have to pay tax on my account? ME, Dubai

In the vast majority of cases, the liability to tax on income is based on residency. ME is a British national and he is a UK non-resident for tax purposes. This means that he is not liable to pay UK tax on his UAE earnings or interest from his offshore account.

There is no personal liability to pay income tax for people residing in the UAE.

Banks and insurance companies commonly request for a tax identification number these days. For UAE residents, the response should be “not applicable” as the country does not currently issue this for individuals.

I have been employed by a company for about seven years and have handed in my notice since I plan to leave the UAE.

Over the years, I have been promoted a few times and my salary has increased each time. Now, I earn more than two times my starting salary.

I have been given a calculation for my gratuity but the amount is less than what I was expecting to be paid.

I was expecting 30 days’ pay for each year on my final salary, but the company has worked it out as 21 days’ pay for the first few years but on a lower salary.

The difference in calculation is huge, so I need to know whether my estimate is right so that I receive what I am owed. SF, Dubai

In this situation, neither the employee nor the employer is wholly right.

When an employee resigns after having completed more than five years of service, they are entitled to receive a full end-of-service benefit, but the law is very specific regarding how it is calculated. This is unchanged in the new UAE labour law.

“The full-time foreign worker, who completed a year or more in continuous service, shall be entitled to end-of-service benefits at the end of his service, calculated according to the basic wage as per the following: a. A wage of 21 days for each year of the first five years of service; b. A wage of 30 days for each year exceeding such period,” according to Article 51 of the new labour law.

“The foreign worker shall be entitled to a benefit for parts of the year in proportion to the period spent at work …” and “the unpaid days of absence from work shall not be included in the calculation of the service term.”

The gratuity payment is calculated on the basic salary only and the law states: “The end-of-service benefits shall be calculated according to the last basic wage the worker was entitled to.”

The UAE government website confirms this and says: “It will not include allowances such as housing, conveyance, utilities, furniture, etc.”

SF’s gratuity must be calculated using her current basic salary only, with 21 days payable for each of the first five years of service, and then 30 days for each full year after more than five years of service, pro-rated for partial years.

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: June 05, 2022, 5:00 AM