'Can my employer insist I work seven days a week?'

The Abu Dhabi employee has been asked to work Fridays for at least two months

Businesswoman using computer in the office. Stress in the office
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

My employment contract says I am not entitled to overtime pay but I am now being asked to work more than 48 hours a week and for seven days rather than six. This will include a full day on a Friday for at least two months. Can I really be asked to do this? CF, Abu Dhabi

CF manages a drama school and although her visa states teacher, her employment contract clearly states she has a management role. Chapter 4 of UAE Labour Law sets out the maximum permitted working hours and the rules for overtime payment but Article 72 then states: “The provisions of the present chapter shall not apply to the following categories: 1. Persons occupying high-ranked managerial or supervisory positions, should such positions confer upon the occupants thereof powers of the employer over the workers.” CF falls into this category.

Within the chapter there is clear guidance in Article 71 regarding working at weekends. It says: “The worker may not be requested to work for more than two consecutive Fridays with the exception of the day workers." UAE Labour Law makes it clear that no one should work seven days a week and all employees should have a rest day. Even though these guidelines do not strictly apply — as shown by Article 72 — there is still an expectation that all employees, no matter their position, should have a reasonable time off work. While it is understandable to work long hours for a period of time if there is pressure on a business, any reasonable employer would then permit some time off in lieu.

Is it legal and correct for Dubai banks to keep on adding charges and fees after a settlement is reached? Although there was an agreement, I wasn't able to pay the amount agreed as my new employer turned out to be a scam company. Therefore, I did not have the income I was expecting. It has been five years now and they have instructed lawyers in the UK to recover £46,000 (Dh208,615) on two credit cards, when the original borrowing was around £1,200 on each. KR, UK

Where a settlement of a debt was agreed but the borrower fails to make payment, then the bank is within their rights to start charging interest and penalties again, in accordance with the terms of the original agreement signed when the credit cards were taken out. If no payments are made for five years then it will build up. Money that is borrowed must be repaid and not making any contribution towards a debt simply means it will increase over time.

There is also an issue here about legal jurisdiction. A UAE bank does not have the right to pursue a debt in the UK as there is no treaty to this effect. What they can do, however, is "sell on" a debt to a third party. This third party, which can be a legal practice, then owns the debt and has the right to collect it in accordance with the law of the land, in this case the UK. The laws regarding debt in the UK are more relaxed than in the UAE and individuals can challenge excessive charges too. A good starting point would be to contact the UK’s Citizens Advice Bureau for advice on how to deal with the debt and charges.

I followed my wife to Dubai as she was offered a good role in a school, so she is my sponsor. I have been at home with the children so far but want to take on a job to fit around the children. The company I have been speaking to say it isn't worth employing me as it costs them a lot to organise a residency visa for me. They also said I cannot work on my current visa. A female friend sponsored by her husband is at the company, so why isn't it the same for me? TP, Dubai

Until recently the employer would have been correct. While women sponsored by their husbands could take up employment — with just a work permit and a letter of no objection from the spouse — it was not the same for sponsored husbands. The law in the UAE changed in July of this year and now men sponsored by their wives can take up employment too. The company in question can now apply for a work permit for TP without the cost of full sponsorship.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 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