‘Can we wait until December 31 to switch to limited-term contracts?’

It is best to deal with this soon to avoid being caught in a last-minute backlog and potentially be subject to fines

The government has extended the deadline to update all employment contracts to December 31. Getty
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Question: I read your article about switching to a limited-term contract and also heard that the deadline has been extended.

My boss has asked me to handle this for our employees. Is there a benefit in doing this now rather than leaving it until later this year?

We have people on both limited and unlimited contracts. TM, Abu Dhabi

Answer: You are correct that there has been an official extension to the deadline to update all employment contracts to comply with the new UAE labour law.

The deadline is now December 31, 2023, but there is no need to wait.

If the contracts are updated, all employees will be on the same terms, which is fairer, and it also makes it easier for an employer to handle any issues.

At the present time, any employees who are still on the old limited contracts will be subject to the old terms.

This means that they can be penalised for leaving employment before the end of the contract term and if they have been employed for less than five years, they will forfeit the gratuity.

An employer will also be subject to the old labour law. This means that if they terminate any employees on a fixed-term contract, a penalty will need to be paid to the workers.

I understand that the extension is largely due to the failure by many companies to update contracts, even though they had 12 months’ notice.

It is best to deal with this sooner rather than later as the changes are mandatory and you don’t want to be caught in a last-minute backlog and be potentially subject to fines.

Q: I have been working for a company since June 2021. I am four months' pregnant and the company has decided to terminate me.

The company says they want to outsource my work to India, so they do not need me any more.

Is it fair to terminate me while I am pregnant? I informed them about my pregnancy a month ago. JY, Dubai

A: Congratulations on your pregnancy. The new labour law is very clear about the employment of women when they are pregnant and the clauses were added to ensure fair treatment.

Article (30) of the new law, Federal Decree Law No (33) of 2021, is titled Maternity Leave. Clause 8 states: “It is not permissible to terminate the service of the female worker or notify her of the same because of the pregnancy, having a maternity leave or her absence from work in accordance with the provisions of this article.”

Watch: New UAE labour laws come into effect

It seems too much of a coincidence for a pregnant woman to be terminated shortly after notifying her employer of her condition.

I understand that the business will continue to trade in the UAE, so JY can continue to be employed.

I recommend that she seek personal advice from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

She can contact them via the chat function on the website or telephone 600 590000. Standard working hours are from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Thursday, but it closes early on Fridays.

Q: I was offered a gift card to a well-known store some time last year. It was for Dh500 but I didn’t use it as I was saving it for a treat.

Last week, I went to the store to use the card, but they told me it had expired. I have lost all the money as they would not accept it.

Is there a law about this? Can a company refuse to accept a card even though it has not been used? DS, Dubai

A: It is usual for a gift card to be valid for a specific period of time, usually six or 12 months. This is from the date of issue and is usually stated on their website or accompanying paperwork, even if there is no date shown on the card itself.

The terms of use and the validity are always subject to the company’s individual decision and they can legally specify a use-by date for any credit of this nature.

Each company can set their own policy in this regard.

The responsibility is with the holder to check the validity of any gift cards they receive and to use them by that date.

The shop's staff were correct in declining the card. You can try to contact the main office to see if they are willing to extend the date if you offer them a good reason on why you did not use it in time.

There is no guarantee they will reconsider, but you have nothing to lose by asking.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with more than 30 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: February 12, 2023, 5:00 AM