'My employer cannot pay me amid Covid-19. Can I work elsewhere until my income returns?'

The Abu Dhabi resident's employer has told the employee they can take on part-time work until the crisis eases

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – July 15: Dirham is the currency of the United Arab Emirates. UAE dirham was introduced in 1973. (Pawan Singh / The National) *** Local Caption ***  PS01- DIRHAMS.jpg
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I have a job with a small company but I am struggling financially as I am not receiving any income. I do not want to leave the country as I do not know whether I will be able to return. I could also lose out on benefits if I do. My boss has told me I can take on a part-time job, but I am worried that I would be working illegally. Am I allowed to do work for someone else for a while until the company can start paying me again? MV, Abu Dhabi

In April, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation announced Ministerial Declaration No 279, which clarified how employers could legally reduce salaries or request employees to take unpaid leave if they had financial issues due to the coronavirus. The department also set up a facility for non-Emiratis to be temporarily employed elsewhere.

MV works for a mainland employer and so this resolution is relevant. The employer should register the individual staff member on the Virtual Labour Market, https://careers.mohre.gov.ae/, which allows the employee to work for another UAE employer. Employees can also do this themselves. It means an employer that needs to expand its workforce can do so at this time despite the suspension of new visa applications.

Additional staff can be employed in a number of different ways and the new or temporary employer can select the relevant work permit options. These are a work permit transfer, temporary work permit or part-time work permit. Given the circumstances, MV can take on a temporary role on either a part-time or full-time basis via the Virtual Labour Market without any change to her visa status.

My Fujairah employer terminated my position on March 12. Soon after, the airports closed and there have been no flights to my country. The company told me I have to obtain a new visa or face government fines. They have said it is all now my responsibility. Seeing that I have no money, what can I do to get a new visa? AM, Fujairah

It is unfortunate that AM’s employer cancelled the residency visa in mid-March. If this had happened before March 1, AM would have received a grace period of three months before fines are due. As the cancellation took place after March 1, AM only has a 30-day grace period after which he must secure a new work visa or leave the country. The fines, which start building up after the grace period, are Dh225 for the first day and then Dh25 for each additional day.

Employers were encouraged to delay visa cancellations and be compassionate but this did not happen for AM. He will need to apply for a tourist visa. In-country tourist visas can be issued for a period of up to 90 days, albeit for a fee. The total cost for a 90-day visa is about Dh1,900 while the 30-day visa is Dh1,600.

AM should contact the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigner Affairs in the relevant emirate, which is Fujairah in this case. However, GDRFA-Fujairah does not have an operational website, so contact is through email at info@gdrfaf.gov.ae or by telephone 09 222 2727

I note that AM does not have any money, but he still needs to take action rather than ignore the situation. Some government departments may show leniency in such cases although all applications are assessed individually. He should also contact his home country's embassy to enquire about repatriation flights.

I am moving back to the UK soon and am going to submit the Transfer of Residence form, but I have a question. Do I really need to include my cats? They are former strays with no actual monetary value and so I do not know if I am being told the truth by a friend or it is a joke. SH, Dubai

A TOR form is required if anyone is moving to the UK from outside of the European Union and shipping personal items such as furniture, personal effects, cars and yes, even animals. In brief, the form, which became mandatory in April 2017, ensures people are not charged VAT on their possessions.

Details of any pets must be declared on the form, named ToR1 on the UK Government websites, as they are deemed to be personal belongings. However, they must meet the requirements of the UK’s Pet Passport Scheme in respect of vaccinations and health. All cats and dogs in the UAE that are pets should be microchipped and the microchip number – the animal’s identity number – must be included on the form. The form does not ask for a value for pets. There are a number of good pet-relocation companies that assist with not only the physical transportation of pets, but also the paperwork and legal requirements.

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