'Am I entitled to public holidays if I work a four-day week?'

Under UAE law, employees working over any holiday must be paid time-and-a-half or given a day off in lieu

Dubai - December 13, 2009 - Going to work in the DIFC in Dubai, December 13, 2009. STOCK (Photo by Jeff Topping/The National)
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Question: I work a four-day week, from Monday to Thursday inclusive. My company is open seven days a week, including public holidays, so I would like to know where I stand about days off and payments.

When I asked for a day off on the last UAE public holiday, I was told that as I only work four days, it doesn’t count. The next public holiday is also on a Monday, so I am missing out. What are my rights? DB, Dubai

Answer: A public holiday should be a day off for all employees but there are businesses that must operate all days of the year.

The employer is incorrect and needs to be appraised of the law. For this reason, there is provision in the UAE labour law for this situation.

Article 28, Public Holidays and Worker’s Work during Holidays, states. “The worker shall be entitled to official days off with full pay on public holidays, which are defined by a resolution of the Cabinet.”

Watch: New UAE labour laws come into effect

New UAE labour laws come into effect

New UAE labour laws come into effect

It adds: “If work conditions require that the worker works during any of the public holidays, the employer shall compensate him with another day off for each day, on which he works during the holiday, or pay him the wage for that day according to the wage established for the normal working days, plus an increase of not less than (50%) fifty per cent of the basic wage for that day.”

This means that if DB is required to work on any public holiday, she is entitled to a day off in lieu, or an additional payment of at least 150 per cent of their normal day rate of basic salary.

I would not expect any employee to be asked to work every public holiday and the employer needs to be reasonable and act fairly.

If the employer fails to provide the time off in lieu or an additional payment, once they have been reminded of the law, DB can register a case against them with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

Q: I have a question about my end-of-service gratuity. I started work on February 16, 2023 and am on a two-year visa but with a rolling one-year contract.

If the company ends my employment before the end of the full year, can you tell me if I am still eligible for the end-of-service gratuity as I have a 90-day notice period? GF, Dubai

A: A notice period is considered part of the period of service and all days are counted towards the calculation of the end-of-service gratuity payment. This is clearly set out in the UAE labour law.

Article 51 states: “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) twenty-one days for each year of the first five years of service; b. A wage of (30) thirty days for each year exceeding such period. 3. The foreign worker shall be entitled to a benefit for parts of the year in proportion to the period spent at work, provided that he completed one year of continuous service.”

Provided GF is employed by this company for a full calendar year, less any days of unpaid leave, and including the notice period, he is entitled to the end-of-service gratuity, calculated on his basic salary per the contact of employment lodged with the MoHRE.

Q: My mother passed away early this year and I have discovered that she owned some UK Premium Bonds. She must have had them for many years and I would like to know if they can be transferred to me as I would like to keep them. I am her only beneficiary.

Can you tell me what course of action I can take to do this? SG, Ras Al Khaimah

A: Premium Bonds are a UK savings product offered by National Savings & Investments and backed by the UK government. They are similar to the UAE’s National Bonds.

Following the death of the owner of Premium Bonds, the bonds have to be sold as ownership cannot be transferred, even to a legal beneficiary.

The spouse of a deceased owner can hold the Premium Bond for up to 12 months but must then sell them. However, this is not an option for a child, any other relative, or legal beneficiary.

This means that SG cannot retain the savings accounts in her own name. They must be sold in accordance with the NS&I's procedures by making a bereavement claim via their website.

The value of the savings account will be paid to the deceased’s estate, which can then be paid out to the specified beneficiary in the will.

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: December 17, 2023, 5:00 AM