‘Can my employer terminate me by email when I am on holiday?'

It is against the law for UAE employers to terminate staff while they are out of the country

Termination of employment document
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I am currently on annual leave and was due to return to work in the UAE in January. My employer agreed that I could have three weeks off as I had not taken any other leave this year. I knew the company had some problems but I thought things were getting better.

However, this morning I was sent an email telling me I was terminated and that I didn't need to work the 30-day notice. I rent an apartment and have a car in the UAE, so I have to come back. But is it right to terminate me while I am on vacation and via email? SB, Abu Dhabi

Under the UAE Labour Law, an employer is not permitted to terminate employment when an employee is out of the country. In addition, a reason also needs to be given. It is also unprofessional to send an email like this.

In this situation, SB can claim for arbitrary dismissal, which is covered in Article 122 of the Labour Law. This states: “The termination of the employment of the worker by the employer shall be deemed arbitrary should the cause of termination not be related to the work…”

Article 123 explains the compensation that may be due. “Should the worker be arbitrarily dismissed, the competent court may order the employer to pay a compensation to the worker. The court shall assess such compensation, taking into account the type of work and the extent of damage incurred to the worker as well as the duration of employment and after the investigation of the work conditions. In all cases, the amount of compensation shall not exceed the wage of the worker for a period of three months calculated on the basis of the last due wage.”

SB can register a claim with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. It should also be noted that whether an employer asks the employee to work the notice period or not, the employee is entitled to full pay for the notice period.

I am coming to Dubai on a visit visa for three months. I have an Oman driving licence and previously had a UAE licence that was transferred 10 years ago when I moved countries. My sponsor in Oman has a company in the UAE and a vehicle here.

He has verbally permitted me to take his car for my personal use instead of renting one. Am I permitted to drive this Dubai-registered car while I am on a visit visa? LN, Dubai

Quote
A visitor to the UAE can only drive a vehicle that is owned by a first degree relative

The Roads and Transport Authority has given guidance on this matter and they state: “If you are on a visit to the UAE and hold a valid international driving licence, accordingly you can rent a car or drive a car registered to your name or one of your first degree relatives.”

A visitor to the UAE can only drive a vehicle that is owned by a first degree relative, so LN is not permitted to drive a car owned by his sponsor. He can only drive a hired car. Driving an owned vehicle would invalidate the insurance.

I have a question about a UK investment. I have an individual savings account and want to know if I can pay into it or even keep it, as friends give me different answers. I have been living in the UAE continuously for 18 months and am still paying some tax in the UK on my rental properties. When I moved here, I was paying £100 ($135) a month into an ISA. I don't think expats can open ISAs, but can I keep it and continue making payments? JM, Abu Dhabi

Provided the ISA was opened while a person is still resident in the UK, the savings account can be retained for an indefinite period, but no further contributions should have been made from the date JM left the UK as these tax-efficient savings schemes are for UK residents only.

The technical term is “resident and ordinarily resident” and most expats will be deemed “non-resident for tax purposes”. The only exception is if someone is a Crown employee working overseas or is the spouse of a Crown employee.

The onus is on the ISA account holder to notify the provider if their residence status changes and JM should stop making payments and advise the provider about when he left. The ISA provider should then return all payments made in error, without the addition of any interest or investment growth that has been earned since the date of non-residency.

It is fine to retain an ISA account while non-resident and JM can start making contributions again, subject to annual limits, if he becomes a UK tax resident again in the future.

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

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